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Visual Art and Artists in Fiction with Idra Novey, Siri Hustvedt, and Brandon Taylor

March 28, 2023

“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.” —Oscar Wilde

Does art imitate life or does life imitate art? Is a portrait a reflection of the model or the artist? What compels a writer to inhabit the mind of a visual artist in a work of fiction? What drives the artist in literature and in life? Idra Novey (Those Who Knew, Ways to Disappear) conversed with Brandon Taylor (Real Life, The Late Americans) and Siri Hustvedt (Memories of the Future, The Blazing World) about the mercurial figure of the fictionalized artist in their respective books in a panel moderated by author Jennifer Gilmore (Something Red).

Novey’s new novel, Take What You Need, follows an outsider artist; Hustvedt has explored the lives of visual artists and the politics of the art world throughout her work; and Taylor’s nationally bestselling collection of stories, Filthy Animals, dives into the intersection of love, sex, and artistic expression. In collaboration with Harper’s Magazine, the panel explored big questions regarding art, humanity, and literature.

Presented in partnership with Harper’s Magazine.

In Conversation

  • Idra_Novey_Final_Jesse_Dittmar - Claire Fennell

    Idra Novey

    Idra Novey

    Idra Novey is the award-winning author of the novels Ways to Disappear and Those Who Knew. Her work has been translated into a dozen languages and she’s written for the Atlantic, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times. She teaches fiction at Princeton University and in the MFA Program at New York University.

    Photo Credit: Jesse Ditmar

  • SiriHustvedt_3 - Vrinda Madan

    Siri Hustvedt

    Siri Hustvedt

    Siri Hustvedt is the author of a book of poetry, six essay collections, seven novels, including The Blazing World and Memories of the Future, and several works of nonfiction. Hustvedt has a Ph.D. from Columbia University in English Literature and an appointment as a lecturer in psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College. The Blazing World was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won The Los Angeles Book Prize for Fiction. She has been awarded the International Gabarron Prize for Thought and Humanities, the Prix européen de l’essai from the Foundation Charles Veillon, an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature, and the Princess of Asturias Award in Spain. Her work has been translated into over thirty languages. Hustvedt lives in Brooklyn, New York.

  • Brandon Taylor (c) Haolun Xu - Vrinda Madan

    Brandon Taylor

    Brandon Taylor

    Brandon Taylor is the author of the novels The Late Americans and Real Life, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, and named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and a Science + Literature Selected Title by the National Book Foundation. His collection Filthy Animals, a national bestseller, was awarded The Story Prize and shortlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. He is the 2022-2023 Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow at the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

    Photo Credit: Haolun Xu

  • jgilmore01 Large

    Jennifer Gilmore

    Jennifer Gilmore

    Jennifer Gilmore is the critically acclaimed author of five novels, including The Mothers, Something Red, and Golden Country, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the Harold U Ribalow Prize. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Atlantic, Bookforum, Harper’s Magazine, the Forward, the Los Angeles Times, New York magazine, the New York Times, Real Simple, Salon, the Washington Post, and Vogue. Gilmore has taught creative writing and literature at Barnard, Cornell, Harvard, New York University, the New School, Princeton, and Sarah Lawrence. She currently teaches creative writing at Lafayette College.

    Photo Credit: Michael Lovett