Wynne, Frank 1962-
Wynne, Frank 1962-
Born 1962, in Ireland. Education: Attended Trinity College, Dublin.
Agent—David Miller, Rogers, Coleridge & White, 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN, England.
Worked in comic book publishing in France, 1987-94; former staff member of Revolver and Crisis magazines; former managing editor of Deadline magazine; former editorial director, America Online in England; currently full-time freelance writer and translator.
Dublin Literary Award, International IMPAC, 2002, for Atomised; Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, 2005, for translation Windows on the World.
I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger, Bloomsbury USA (New York, NY), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including the London Sunday Times, Independent, Irish Times, Time Out, and Melody Maker.
Dominique Sigaud, Somewhere in a Desert, Phoenix House (London, England), 1998.
Michel Houellebecq, Atomised, Heinemann (London, England), 2000.
Michel Houellebecq, The Elementary Particles, Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.
Denis Guedj, The Parrot's Theorem: A Novel, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2001.
Michel Houellebecq, Lanzarote, Heinemann (London, England), 2003.
Michel Houellebecq, Platform: A Novel, Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.
Philippe Besson, In the Absence of Men, Carroll & Graf (New York, NY), 2003.
André Comte-Sponville, The Little Book of Philosophy, Heinemann (London, England), 2004.
Pierre Mérot, Mammals, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Ahmadou Kourouma, Allah Is Not Obliged (novel), Anchor, 2007.
Also translator of His Brother, by Philippe Besson, Waiting for the Wild Beasts to Vote, by Ahamdou Kourouma, and Windows of the World, by Frédéric Beigbeder. Translator of French graphic novels, including those by Lorenzo Mattotti, Enki Bilal, Max Cabanes, and Edika.
I Was Vermeer was broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 2006.
Frank Wynne is best known for his work translating French novels and graphic novels. He worked in the comics business in England before moving to France in 1984. There he worked on various magazines and became managing editor of Deadline, which was well known for its "Tank Girl" comics. After Deadline closed its doors, Wynne worked for an Internet company and then turned to freelancing full time. He has translated the works of several contemporary French writers, including many by the prominent novelist Michel Houellebecq, and has won awards for his translations. I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger is his first original nonfiction work.
I Was Vermeer is the tale of Han van Meegeren, the notorious forger who duped the art world for years with paintings he himself created in the style of the seventeenth-century Dutch master Jan Vermeer. Although van Meegeren's paintings were admittedly not as great as Vermeer's best-known works, the forger got away with his scam by saying they were early works; also, so little was known about Vermeer himself that it was easy to convince people that the forgeries were previously undiscovered paintings. His most famous forgery was "The Supper at Emmaus," which van Meegeren sold to the Boijmans Museum in Rotterdam in 1938 for the princely sum of over a half million guilders, or about three million dollars in today's money. From the 1930s through the early 1940s, van Meegeren continued to dupe museums and art experts, becoming a wealthy man in the process. He was caught at the end of World War II when he attempted to sell one of his forgeries to Adolf Hitler's henchman Hermann Goering. In a somewhat heroic twist, van Meegeren was attempting to negotiate with Goering to trade the forgery for some of the Netherlands' real art treasures, which the Nazis had stolen and hidden. Van Meegeren, however, was arrested for treason for trying to, ironically, sell a national treasure. In prison, he admitted that he had forged the painting, and many others, thus unleashing one of the biggest scandals of all time in the art world. The forger, however, was not entirely displeased with this outcome. A frustrated artist himself who could not gain acceptance because his style was considered outdated, van Meegeren had initially hatched his forgery plan in an attempt to wreak vengeance on the art community. In this, he certainly succeeded by embarrassing many experts. Dying in 1947, he did not enjoy his revenge for long, however. Wynne uses van Meegeren's contempt for the art world to similarly comment on its perceived arrogance and snobbery.
Books about van Meegeren had been published before Wynne's account, although not since the 1960s, noted critics. Paul Maliszewski, writing in the Wilson Quarterly Review, felt that I Was Vermeer "adds little to those accounts of the forger's fizzy rise and ignominious fall, and [Wynne] only cursorily considers the uncomfortable questions about the art world raised by a forger's achievements." A few other reviewers also criticized the author's writing style as "ponderous," as Tina Jordan put it in Entertainment Weekly. A Publishers Weekly writer similarly called the book an "intriguing if dry biography." In contrast, a Kirkus Reviews critic described Wynne's book as a "spectacular story of vengeance and fraud told with verve and style," while a Bookseller contributor declared it a "riveting biography." The "strength of this book lies in the way it teases out the wrinkles of perception and understanding that the forger exploits," concluded Brian Cathcart in the New Statesman.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 1999, Michael Spinella, review of Somewhere in a Desert, p. 234; September 1, 2001, Will Hickman, review of The Parrot's Theorem: A Novel, p. 50; June 1, 2003, Joanne Wilkinson, review of Platform: A Novel, p. 1743; April 15, 2006, Whitney Scott, review of Mammals, p. 29; September 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest Forger, p. 36; April 15, 2007, Ray Olson, review of Allah Is Not Obliged, p. 22.
Bookseller, June 30, 2006, Sue Roe, "The Private Lives of the Impressionists," review of I Was Vermeer, p. 36.
Entertainment Weekly, July 18, 2003, Troy Patterson, review of Platform, p. 80; September 29, 2006, Tina Jordan, review of I Was Vermeer, p. 87.
Kirkus Reviews, February 15, 2003, review of In the Absence of Men, p. 269; March 1, 2006, review of Mammals, p. 201; June 15, 2006, review of I Was Vermeer, p. 630.
New Statesman, August 28, 2006, "A Nice Paint Job," review of I Was Vermeer, p. 48.
Observer (London, England), July 30, 2006, Edward Marriott, "Portrait of the Artist as a Copycat," review of I Was Vermeer.
Publishers Weekly, September 4, 2000, review of The Elementary Particles, p. 81; August 6, 2001, review of The Parrot's Theorem, p. 61; June 9, 2003, review of Platform, p. 34; January 24, 2005, review of Windows on the World, p. 219; March 13, 2006, review of Mammals, p. 40; July 10, 2006, review of I Was Vermeer, p. 65.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, spring, 2001, James Sallis, review of The Elementary Particles.
Times Literary Supplement, October 18, 2002, Brian Dillon, review of Platform, p. 24; October 22, 2004, "Everybody Dies," p. 22; July 28, 2006, "Deep in Enemy Country," p. 22; September 1, 2006, "A Real Fake," p. 32; October 20, 2006, "Warrior Boy," p. 22.
Washington Post, January 21, 2001, "Getting Physical," p. 7.
Wilson Quarterly, September 22, 2006, "Old Master, New Mimic," p. 91.
Frank Wynne Home Page,http://www.frankwynne.com (July 6, 2007).