Oct 25, 2016

The Real Deal

I was reading about a renowned artist and art forger who was arrested.  At his trial, he asked, "I don't understand.  Yesterday, this picture was worth millions of guilders, and experts and art lovers would come from all over the world and pay money to see it.  Today, it is worth nothing and nobody would cross the street to see it for free.  But the picture has not changed! So what's the difference?"
A witness at the trial said, "The magic has gone out of the picture.  Like the first edition of a book, an original painting is part of history, a history that contains all of our dreams, our fears and our loves.  A fake is ... a fake! No more, no less."

Do you understand this answer? I don't.  Is there a better answer to the forger's question?

One answer is, "Forgeries are also wrong because they falsify history. The characteristics of a forgery accrue to the original artist.  If we know that a painting is from the hand of Vermeer, we will see it in terms of what we know about the art of 17th century Netherlands; if we know that the work was by a forger working in 1936, we will be able to detect in it 20th century traces which were unnoticed before."

I can appreciate that.  It's when people ooh and ah over a painting that they think is from a master and then scorn it when they learn it's a forgery, that seems silly to me.

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