Can you love a fake piece of art?

By Melissa Hogenboom

BBC News Magazine

Wrong signature. Dubious provenance. Fake. These are words an auction house dreads to hear.

This is exactly what happened recently with a drawing hailed as an early Andy Warhol. It was denounced by his brother as a fake but discussions on its authenticity are ongoing.

A work by Van Gogh or Munch can fetch tens of millions. Cast a shadow of doubt over its provenance and that value rapidly declines.
But if it has a level of draughtsmanship, colour and imagination that is nearly enough to fool an auction house expert, isn’t that worth something?
Han van Meegeren is a candidate for the greatest forger ever. The Dutchman came closest to being acclaimed as an artist in his own right after gaining notoriety forging 17th Century Dutch masters that would fool art-loving Nazis.

While his own paintings were of little interest to critics, his forgeries earned millions and conned, among others, Hitler’s deputy Hermann Goering.
Van Meegeren was arrested in 1945 and charged with treason for selling a Vermeer – classified as a Dutch national treasure – to the Nazis. Facing a possible death penalty, he confessed all – that he was a forger.

The Dutch authorities didn’t believe him. To prove he was no traitor, he was asked to paint a copy.

“A copy,” Van Meegeren is reported to have exclaimed, “I’ll do better than that. Give me the materials and I will paint another Vermeer before witnesses.”
Before the war, frustrated that his style of painting did not suit the world’s new-found interest in modern art, Van Meegeren had forged a Vermeer in his own style that was “unlike any previous Vermeer”, says Frank Wynne, who wrote a biography of the forger.

“What infuriated him was a skill that would have made him famous in an earlier age was of no interest to anyone at a time when the world was interested in post-impressionism.”
His experiment worked. His painting, The Supper at Emmaus, was hailed as a previously unknown masterpiece by Vermeer and was one of the most visited paintings in the Netherlands until it was revealed to be a fake.

Van Meegeren wanted to prove that a famous signature on a painting hugely influences how beautiful we think it is, says Wynne.

“A famous artist’s signature gives us the romantic notion that their paintings are sacred artefacts that were touched by the hand of a genius.”


“Mona Lisa” could have been completed a decade later than thought

A drawing of rocks by Leonardo in the Royal Collection provides evidence that the artist worked on the portrait for much longer than the dates officially given by the Louvre
Leonardo’s Mona Lisa was probably completed a decade later than the date given by the Louvre. This radical redating follows conservation work on the Prado’s copy of the Mona Lisa.
The Louvre dates the Mona Lisa to 1503-06. It has now been realised, however, that part of the painted background was based on a drawing of rocks that Leonardo made in 1510-15.
The link between the drawing and the landscape in the Madrid copy was spotted by the Prado’s technical specialist, Ana González Mozo. This emerged during an investigation of the background in the copy, which had been overpainted in black in the second half of the 18th century. The overpaint was removed earlier this year.
When the Prado copy was being studied, infrared images revealed that a section of the original design for the rocks beneath the paint surface had been based on a drawing now in the Royal Collection. Martin Clayton, the senior curator at the Windsor print room, dates the drawing to 1510-15 on stylistic grounds.
The Prado copy of the Mona Lisa was worked on side by side with the Louvre painting, so this connection has important implications for the dating of Leonardo’s original.
Louvre specialists went back to photographs taken of the original Mona Lisa in 2004. They realised that the design for part of the rocks on the right side in the Prado copy also appears in the underdrawing of the original, in a blurred form. This can just be made out in an emissiograph, an image made using an x-ray technique.
It is known that Leonardo had begun the Mona Lisa by 1503, since that year it was recorded in a note by a senior Florentine official, Agostino Vespucci. What remains controversial is the date of its completion.


“Scale” by Patrick Cornwall

weight 2.0

weight 2.0 (Photo credit: Esthr)

Weigh in
Weigh to go
Best weigh to do this
Weight to the midnight hour
Is there a better weigh
Weight just a moment
She was described this weigh
Weighter in a diner
The only weigh to escape pain
Proper weigh to do this
Students learn in many weighs to do things
Step on the scale and way yourself for GODS sake.


Need for Courtroom Sketch Artists Fade as Cameras move into Courts

Sketch artists have been the public’s eyes at high-profile trials for decades — a remnant of an age when drawings in broadsheet papers, school books or travel chronicles were how people glimpsed the world beyond their own. Today, their ranks are thinning swiftly as states move to lift longstanding bans on cameras in courtrooms. As of a year ago, 14 states still had them — but at least three, including Illinois this month, have taken steps since then to end the camera prohibitions.
Cutbacks in news budgets and shifts in aesthetic sensibilities toward digitized graphics have all contributed to the form’s decline, said Maryland-based sketch artist Art Lien. While the erosion of the job may not be much noticed by people reading and watching the news, Lien says something significant is being lost. Video or photos can’t do what sketch artists can, he said, such as compressing hours of court action onto a single drawing that crystallizes the events.
But while courtroom drawing has a long history — artists did illustrations of the Salem witch trials in 1692 — the artistry can sometimes be sketchy. A bald lawyer ends up with a full head of hair. A defendant has two left hands. A portly judge is drawn rail-thin.
Subjects often complain as they see the drawings during court recesses, said Chicago artist Carol Renaud. “They’ll say, ‘Hey! My nose is too big.’ And sometimes they’re right,” she conceded. “We do the drawings so fast.”
Courtroom drawing doesn’t attract most aspiring artists because it doesn’t afford the luxury of laboring over a work for days until it’s just right, said Andy Austin, who has drawn Chicago’s biggest trials over 40 years, including that of serial killer John Wayne Gacy. “You have to put your work on the air or in a newspaper whether you like it or not,” she said.


New prize for art that creates social change – Pistoletto and Zegna foundations present €25,000 award at Serpentine Gallery

The Serpentine Gallery hosted an awards show on 11 January for a new art prize, Visible 2011. The prize, curated by Matteo Luchetti and Judith Wielander, was conceived by the Italian artist and art activist Michelangelo Pistoletto, in collaboration with the Fondazione Zegna. A partnership with the Serpentine was forged during Pistoletto’s 2011 installation The Mirror of Judgement.
Set firmly against the idea of art for art’s sake, the prize is dedicated to artists and collectives who aim to bring about responsible social change through their artistic practices. This idea is rooted in the mission behind Pistoletto’s foundation, that art should not be self-referential.
Four final candidates were chosen from a total of 27 international submissions. The jury assembled for the occasion was an all-star line-up: Michelangelo Pistoletto himself; Ute Meta Bauer, the associate professor and director of the visual arts programme at MIT; Hans-Ulrich Obrist, the director of international projects at the Serpentine Gallery; Okwui Enwezor, the artistic director at the Haus der Kunst, Munich; and Andrea Zegna, the co-founder of the Fondazione Zegna.
In a unanimous decision, the winner of the €25,000 prize was the Colombian collective Helena Producciones, with their submission “8 Festival de la Performance di Cali”. Based in Cali, Colombia, the festival’s influence extends over many parts of the country, acting as a free educational platform and as a vehicle for engaged artistic, social, political and economic debate. The scope and ambition of the project, which is now approaching its eighth edition, secured its place as the winner in the eyes of the judges.
“We were especially interested in projects with longevity and with specific social goals,” says Hans-Ulrich Obrist. “We live in tumultuous times, and we have seen many examples of artists with a strong civic imagination at work in the recent political and social uprisings around the world.”
Even though the prize is still in its infancy, there are already high hopes for the future, especially its international reach. “We presented the award in London to create international awareness, but if you map the competition entries you realise they came from all kinds of social contexts, from Eastern Europe to Asia and Latin America,” says Obrist. “This reflects the growing polyphony of the art world. Often the best entries came from where we least expected.