Art World Exposed Through the Eyes of a Lovable Gallerina

12Nov08

By Emily Waldorf

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The author Danielle Ganek at her book release party at the Guggenheim last May

If you are curious about what goes on behind the scenes in the art world and would love to live a day in the glamorous (or not so glamorous as it turns out) shoes of a gallerina, then Danielle Ganek‘s debut novel, Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him, is for you.  The book was met with glowing reviews from The New York Times as well as art world insiders such as Larry Gagosian and Richard Prince.  

While Ms. Ganek is an established Upper East Side collector and her insanely likeable protagonist, Mia McMurray, is the polar opposite, a downtown gallerina, Ms. Ganek never misses a beat.  She seamlessly describes all of the usual art world suspects, from the debonaire gallerist to the nouveau riche art addict.  In one very telling scene, Connie Butler, a “prominent” collector, gives advice to a woman hoping to start her own brag worthy collection:   

Connie advises, “When you walk into a gallery…talk about anything but art for the first ten minutes.  Never show too much interest.  You’ve got to establish a rapport, break the ice, you know?…But don’t take no for an answer either…if you want to be a top collector, you have to be a bit of a bulldog…Feel free to name-drop.  Everyone does it.  Particularly about the other artists in your collection.  It’s helpful to claim one or two of them as personal friends…Shaking hands at an opening certainly makes them a personal friend…And whatever you do, don’t admit you haven’t heard of an artist.  Lie if you have to.”

As a former gallerina myself,  I can vouch for the fact that Ganek gets it right every time in this clever exposé of the social games people play in the art world.  A very enjoyable and witty read that has people guessing who’s who in the Chelsea gallery set.  I am eagerly awaiting Ganek’s next novel, which is slated to be about a New York decorator who has given up on love just as she becomes reacquainted with her first boyfriend, now an architect, to work together on a tacky McMansion…

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