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Art Thief by Neal Bowers

Art Thief

by Neal Bowers

(published in his 1997 book, Words for the Taking: The Hunt for a Plagiaris,

W.W. Norton)


All art defines itself

by what's left out:

the city in Gauguin's paradise,

corners in Henry Moore.


Think of Renoir's vase

filled with chrysanthemums,

how the room has disappeared,

the tabletop itself barely a suggestion.


My technique perfects such absences.

It's what astonishes:

the empty hook, the blank place

on the wall, the vacant pedestal.


I leave behind the plaque

to name the space,

the pure ideal you wanted

all along but didn't realize,


and lumber into darkness

with a load of imperfections

heavy on my back.

No need to thank me.


Bouquets of Flowers, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1880

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