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The Art of Deception

ed Mark Jones.

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Why, if we value art for the aesthetic pleasure of looking at it, is a successful fake inferior to the real one?

Both private and public collections must house many works by fakers who kept quiet or were lucky.

Could say that every relic in a museum is a fake bc it has been wrenched out of its original context.

A delusion to think that art is generated purely to satisfy a creative urge. Like other artefacts, art is mainly fashioned to be appreciated and acquired by others.

If can only detect a replica by microscopic examination, then challenges the historic reasons for preferring originals.

Past masters are a non-renewable resource, but expanding art market needs more originals, so constant search for new art.

Castrati no longer available to sing what was originally written for them. And boys voices break much earlier than in the past, so today's sopranos even less well-trained than the older boys who used to sing the parts.

E.L. Doctorow was challenged by a reader who said "when you said that Jenks enjoyed for his dinner the roasted haunch of a prairie dog, I knew you'd never been west of the Hudson. Because the haunch of a prairie dog would't fill a teaspoon." So, said Doctorow, I gave the only reply possible: "That's true of prairie dogs toady, ma'am, but in the 1870's ...."

Nervous American tourists can get false passport covers - a blue Canadian one for white Americans and a green Guyanan one for black Americans.

Interesting viewpt?: "Forgery, like any form of imitation, embodies a creative impulse, and that is reason enough for taking its products seriously."

A Rembrandt etching, the 'Hundred Guilder' print, had an unusual history. (That was what R paid either for the original etching or for a copy). The first prints taken from the plate showed lot of detail - the burrs and sharp edges from the artist's tools. By the early C18 - long after R's death - those details had completely disappeared, flattened by the repeated pressures of the printing press. The loss of detail was often compensated for by 'enhancements' by brush and ink. By the second half of C18 the plate was so worn that it wasn't worth using any more. At this point it fell into the hands of a amateur English printmaker named Captain William Baillie, who reworked the plate to bring it back to the state R had left it in 1649. Other printmakers simply copied R's pic, and later the new photogravure process allowed plates to be made that were virtually identical to the R original.

So obviously the first generation is the most valuable, followed by the early C18 versions. But the later photogravure versions, although far closer to R's original design, are worth just a few pounds. But Baillie's work is semi-valuable, simply bc it comes from the original plate.

Maori artefacts have been widely faked for the NZ market. A large number were made by German lapidaries in late C19, intended for tourist shops, but also passed off as authentic. They are usually in black nephrite (Maoris used obsidian for black meres) and have very regular shape (Germans couldn't help themselves).

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