2012 Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize for Nonfiction Finalist
Solar Dance: Genius, Forgery, and the crisis of Truth in the Modern Age
In this brilliantly argued, deeply researched book, historian Modris Eksteins links the rise of the world’s most popular artist, Van Gogh, to the fraudulent German dealer who sold forgeries of his work in the 1920s. The dealer was charged and put on trial, but the question of the paintings’ authenticity was never resolved. Ekstein sees this outcome as part of a broader political assault on truth in postwar Europe – and one that still resonates in our own age of celebrity worship and digital duplication. Anchored in a thrilling courtroom drama and sweeping in scope, Solar Dance creates an unsettling portrait of twentieth-century history and culture.
About the Book
Berlin after the Great War was a magnet for art and transgression. Among those it attracted was Otto Wacker, a young gay dancer turned art impresario. His sale of 33 forged Vincent Van Gogh paintings and the ensuing scandal gave Van Gogh’s work unprecedented commercial value. It also called into question a world of defined values and standards that had already begun to erode during the war. Through the lens of Wacker’s sensational 1932 trial, historian Modris Eksteins offers a unique narrative of Weimar Germany, the rise of Hitler, and the replacement of nineteenth-century certitude with twentieth-century doubt.
About the Author
Modris Eksteins was born in Latvia, settling in Winnipeg before eventually moving to Toronto. He won the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship and studied at Oxford University, earning a doctorate in philosophy. His title Walking Since Daybreak: A Story of Eastern Europe, World War II and the Heart of Our Century won this prize in 1999.
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