Forged: Why Fakes Are The Great Art Of Our Age

Forged: Why Fakes Are The Great Art Of Our Age

Book - 20130103
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According to Vasari, the young Michelangelo often borrowed drawings of past masters, which he copied, returning his imitations to the owners and keeping originals. Half a millennium later, Andy Warhol made a game of "forging" the Mona Lisa, questioning the entire concept of originality.Forged explores art forgery from ancient times to the present. In chapters combining lively biography with insightful art criticism, Jonathon Keats profiles individual art forgers and connects their stories to broader themes about the role of forgeries in society. From the Renaissance master Andreadel Sarto who faked a Raphael masterpiece at the request of his Medici patrons, to the Vermeer counterfeiter Han van Meegeren who duped the avaricious Hermann Goring, to the frustrated British artist Eric Hebborn, who began forging to expose the ignorance of experts, art forgers have challenged"legitimate" art in their own time, breaching accepted practices and upsetting the status quo. They have also provocatively confronted many of the present-day cultural anxieties that are major themes in the arts. Keats uncovers what forgeries - and our reactions to them - reveal about changing conceptions of creativity, identity, authorship, integrity, authenticity, success, and how we assign value to works of art. The book concludes by looking at how artists today have appropriated many aspects of forgerythrough such practices as street-art stenciling and share-and-share-alike licensing, and how these open-source "copyleft" strategies have the potential to make legitimate art meaningful again. Forgery has been much discussed - and decried - as a crime. Forged is the first book to assess great forgeries as high art in their own right.
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA 20130103
ISBN: 9780199928354


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Aug 25, 2013

Forged is entertaining to read for characters like Tom Keating. It's satisfying when the elitism and pomposity of the art establishment are justifiably exposed to ridicule. If Keats had been content to do that, this would be a much better book. Ironically, both his thesis and his attempts support it are just as pretentious as the connoisseurs and art historians he lampoons. He provides footnotes for nearly everything except specialized terms which is annoyingly snobbish. And, beyond that, if you're trying to pillory the experts, you need to get your own facts right. Misspelling Urbino (one of the most famous and prolific of Renaissance courts) as Urbano in the title of Titian's Venus of Urbino TWICE doesn't help Keats' credibility. Nor does failing to mention that scholars Lisa del Giocondo isn't the only candidate for the subject of the Mona Lisa. We're usefully reminded that concern about authenticity on the part of collectors and institutions is a fairly recent phenomenon, but the text becomes very muddled towards the end. Ruminations on appropriation art, culture jamming, etc. are tangentially and tenuously related to Keat's dubious premise and ultimately lead nowhere.


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