Infidelity is an issue in the forefront in the novel, given that the novel centers on a man who pursued a decades-long affair and maintained two separate families and lives. Not only was Oscar Feldman unfaithful to his wife, he was unfaithful to his lover; he had affairs with many of the women he painted. In this novel, the impacts of infidelity are muted. Both wife and mistress are aware of the presence of the other, and they adapt and live accordingly. There are no histrionics or demands to sever ties; both women accept Oscar’s infidelity as part of who he is, and they love him anyway. Even the impact on Oscar’s children is not highlighted; it is mentioned but is not the main focus of the novel. Oscar’s affairs with women were often taken in stride as part of his being an artist; because of his fame, his painting of nudes, and his notoriety in the art world, he was given leeway and passes where other people might not have. As a result, infidelity is always present in his life and in the lives of those he loves, but it is not a determining factor in their commitment to him.
Throughout the novel, art in its many forms is discussed. Oscar and his sister, Maxine, are both renowned artists but have very different styles and tastes. Because of this, the abstract, the concrete, the new wave, and many other styles and forms of art are discussed. Christensen delves into newer, trendier forms of art, and through Maxine’s disdain of them, she highlights many artist’s feelings that they are commercialized and shallow. Maxine and Oscar use art as a personal expression of emotion—Oscar of the deep respect and love he had for women, and Maxine of her personal thoughts and interpretations of life. Art is seen as a release, a vent, a catalyst for emotion, a way to find fulfillment, and a way to stimulate and intrigue the minds of humans.
Through the various relationships that are highlighted,
(The entire section is 829 words.)