Showing posts with label fake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fake. Show all posts

December 12, 2013

Thursday, December 12, 2013 - ,,,, No comments

Felicity Strong on "The Mythology of the Art Forger" in the Fall 2013 issue of ARCA's Journal of Art Crime

Felicity Strong uses the biographies of Han van Meegeren and Elmyr de Hory, amongst others, in her academic article on "The Mythology of the Art Forger" in the tenth issue of The Journal of Art Crime. From the abstract:
In the twentieth century, there has been the rise in the depiction of the art forger in non-fiction biographies and memoir. Distinct from scholarly research, these portrayals of individual art forgers have developed a common mythology, which weaves through each narrative. The art forger is mythicised as a hero; the failed artist protesting a corrupt art market dominated by greedy art dealers and scholars. In Australian culture, this mythology has its roots in the wider legend of hero criminal such as in the story of Ned Kelly and includes elements of the North American ‘trickster’ mythology. It also feeds into a broader anti-intellectualism and mistrust of the establishment, particularly in the depiction of art curators and connoisseurs. This mythology is evident in a number of biographies of notable forgers, such as Han van Meegeren and Elmyr de Hory, which intersect with the sub-genre of memoir, in the personal accounts of Tom Keating, Eric Hebborn and Ken Pereyni. These narratives fuel the ability of the forgers to construct their own public persona and feed into the wider mythology of the art forger.
Ms. Strong's article begins with:
“Art forgers are endowed with the same evil attractiveness as emanates from great criminals”. Thierry Lenain
Art historian Otto Kurz in his book, Fakes: a Handbook for Collectors and Students, summarizes the basis of the mythology of the art forger. He refers to the “often repeated story of the innocent forger, dished up every time one of the great forgers has been found out”. This mythology more or less follows the same narrative arc across each story: beginning with childhood struggle, such as Tom Keating, described as “born with every disadvantage except a loving mother, or Eric Hebborn, who described his maternal relationship, “as her favourite, my ears were those she liked to box the best, my bottom was the preferred target for an affectionate kick”. Most of the art forgers overcome their struggles through learning the tools of the art trade, working for restorers or conservators and slowly developing a common distain for the cultural elite and art market. Keating is characterized triumphing over adversity through his talents, as he “taught himself reading and achieved a much broader cultural than most of today’s A-level students and feather- bedded graduates”. The art forgers who began their career as failed artists rail against the agents of the market; dealers, gallery owners, critics and curators; whom they perceive as having wronged them. They begin to create forgeries, justifying their production on their perceived mistreatment by the cultural elite. This is evident in the case of Han van Meegeren, who trained as an artist and held a number of solo exhibitions before he began to forge old master painters. Some commentators claim it was series of poorly performing shows and negative reviews by Amsterdam’s arts community, which drove him to forge Vermeer. He allegedly refused the offer of critics, who approached van Meegeren for payment in return for positive appraisals of his shows, resulting in negative reviews. Jonathan Lopez dismisses the idea that he was pushed into forging, claiming that van Meegeren was creating forgeries well before this time, motivated purely by the money that more established artists could command.
Felicity Strong is a PhD candidate in her second year of research at the University of Melbourne, Australia. She has a Master of Art Curatorship and has worked in commercial galleries in Melbourne and London. Her PhD research is focused on discovering the extent to which perceptions of art forgery are influenced by depictions in cultural context, such as in literature, on screen and within an art museum environment.

Design for this issue and all issues of The Journal of Art Crime is the work of Urška Charney. Here's a link to ARCA's website on The Journal of Art Crime (includes Table of Contents for previous issues).

December 3, 2013

Tuesday, December 03, 2013 - , No comments

Persian chalice authentic or fake? Dutch Art Investigator Arthur Brand has no doubts

Dutch art investigator Arthur Brand is of the opinion that the chalice "that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal, as reported in the media, is a fake."

In the LA Times article by Christi Parsons "The chalice that helped make possible the Iran nuclear deal" has been surrounded by controversy regarding its authenticity:
Some experts believe the vessel, known as a rhyton, was crafted in the 7th century BC in what later became the Persian Empire, now Iran. It features three trumpet-shaped cups that sprout from the body of a griffin, a fabled creature that typically has the head and wings of a bird and the body of a lion. On the chalice, the eyes are deep-set and wide open, like those of a bird of prey. The object was allegedly part of a cache of antiquities found in a cave near the Iraqi border in the 1980s, shortly after Iran's Islamic Revolution. "These were great treasures from a great civilization," said Fariborz Ghadar, an Iranian scholar who served as a deputy economic minister to Iran's shah. "Their discovery was of great significance to those who consider themselves Persians, who honor that period in history." 
In 2003, the chalice surfaced in the hands of a well-known antiquities dealer, Hicham Aboutaam, who ran a firm based in Geneva. As he passed through U.S. customs at Newark International Airport, Aboutaam presented a certificate indicating the vessel was from Syria. He was waved through. Aboutaam then set out to document the object's value. Three experts he consulted determined it was from Iran; two concluded it was consistent with the antiquities taken from the cave. An art collector was prepared to pay $1 million, but federal investigators caught wind of it. They charged that the object had been taken from Iran illicitly, making its importation to the U.S. illegal. The dealer was prosecuted and paid a $5,000 fine. The chalice was then placed in a climate-controlled storage unit. The value of the chalice remains uncertain. Some have maintained that it is not 2,700 years old at all, but a modern fake. But Iranian officials have insisted it is genuine and demanded its return.
Arthur Brand pointed out previous questions about the object's authenticity in an Oct. 14 article by Frud Bezhan in Radio Free Europe "U.S. Gift To The Iranian People A 'Fake':
Unfortunately, according to Hamid Baqaie, the former head of Iran's Cultural Heritage Organization, the artifact is without question a modern forgery. "Firstly, the way it has been made and the style in which it has been made shows it's a fake. This artifact doesn't have any roots in ancient Iran," Baqaie says. "Secondly, from a technical point of view the materials used to make it also show that it's not an original." 
Archeologist Oscar White Muscarella, a former curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, has gone on record as saying he, too, does not believe the artifact is the real deal. He wrote in a paper published last year that it took only a glance at a photograph of the artifact to convince him it was a fake.
Dutch art investigator Arthur Brand wrote in an email:
I saw many western-cave objects, some looted, more fake. I saw them too in the Aboutaams' shop. The one the USA gave to Iran is mostly fake, partly constructed from original pieces. I even know who did the construction. It is the same man who made the partly fake which was offered in Germany a few years ago. I made a documentary about that piece, together with the German ARD. Skip to 8.10.
Another Western-cave invention of the Aboutaams, in their shop, secretly filmed by me (see photo below):

March 20, 2009

Book Review: The Forger's Spell by Edward Dolnick

Edward Dolnick's The Forger's Spell is an impeccably researched and entertaining account of the "most successful art forger of the twentieth century (xiii)." In depicting the forgery career of Han Van Meegeren, the book covers a variety of topics from the Dutch experience during World War II and the art collecting practices of Hitler and Goering to the role of connoisseurs and wealthy collectors in the art market. In this respect, Dolnick's work serves as a reference guide for those interested in pursuing further research down the many avenues of art crime.

Although his work is by no means groundbreaking, it does highlight the critical conditions necessary for the "natural disaster" that resulted in the forger's being able to capitalize on the art establishment's foolhardiness (292). Here we find that the forger's skill in selling a fake product rests as much on his ability to paint as on his identification of the perfect mark. We read how Van Meegeren's marketing of each forgery induced a first impression in experts that instantly removed any doubts in authenticity and therefore any need for scientific testing as well.

Unfortunately, at times The Forger's Spell is as verbose and repetitive as any Victorian novel. It only overcomes these soporific effects when detailing the clever processes through which Van Meegeren produced his infamous Vermeer's. Never would I have thought that mixing Bakelite with lapis lazuli would yield a blue similar to the one made famous by Vermeer's brushwork. Additionally, I would have never have known that for the thirty six paintings attributed to Vermeer there have been nearly as many misattributed to him by art experts. As Dolnick discusses, these misidentified paintings have caused the ruination of countless careers and reputations.

Dolnick's intention is not to expose the fallibility of these so-called art experts and historians, but rather to simplify how we experience art by removing any prejudices and by viewing objects with a blank slate. In the words of former Met director Thomas Hoving, the idea is to "be dumb let it [the art] do the talking (242)." In this regard, The Forger's Spell succeeds because it inspires one to appreciate "art for art's sake" and to judge art for his/herself.