Art Forgery: The History of a Modern Obsession

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9781861898500: Art Forgery: The History of a Modern Obsession

With the recent advent of technologies that make detecting art forgeries easier, the art world has become increasingly obsessed with verifying and ensuring artistic authenticity. In this unique history, Thierry Lenain examines the genealogy of faking and interrogates the anxious, often neurotic, reactions triggered in the modern art world by these clever frauds. Lenain begins his history in the Middle Ages, when the issue of false relics and miracles often arose. But during this time, if a relic gave rise to a cult, it would be considered as genuine even if it obviously had been forged. In the Renaissance, forgery was initially hailed as a true artistic feat. Even Michelangelo, the most revered artist of the time, copied drawings by other masters, many of which were lent to him by unsuspecting collectors. Michelangelo would keep the originals himself and return the copies in their place. As Lenain shows, authenticity, as we think of it, is a purely modern concept. And the recent innovations in scientific attribution, archaeology, graphology, medical science, and criminology have all contributed to making forgery more detectable—and thus more compelling and essential to detect. He also analyzes the work of master forgers like Eric Hebborn, Thomas Keating, and Han van Meegeren in order to describe how pieces baffled the art world. Ultimately, Lenain argues that the science of accurately deciphering an individual artist’s unique characteristics has reached a level of forensic sophistication matched only by the forger’s skill and the art world’s paranoia.

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About the Author:

Thierry Lenain is professor of art theory at the Université Libre de Bruxelles. He is the author of Monkey Painting, also published by Reaktion Books.


'since authorship is a major financial issue you need specialist advice. Enter the first character of Art Forgery: the art connoisseur. His claim is that it is impossible to forge a work of art; no forger, however skilled, can reproduce perfectly the Unique. The forger's aim is to prove him wrong. The epic struggle between the two constitutes the subject of Thierry Lenain's remarkable book, whose dazzling erudition and lucid logic make it a pleasure to read.'- -- Donald Sassoon History Today 'This book delves into the history of art forgery, beginning with its prevalence in the middle ages, through the Renaissance to the present day. This genealogy of faking also examines the output and skill of some of the master forgers alongside the art world's thorny relationship with counterfeit work and the ever-more sophisticated technology for detecting fakes.' - Apollo 'Lenain's fascinating book charts our changing attitudes to forgery, from the unbridled admiration of the skill of the well-rewarded copyist during the Renaissance to the hysterical over-reaction and condemnation of today's demonised so-called "master forgers" ... full of historical detail and philosophical explication on the nature of truth and reality applied to the art world.' - ARLIS News

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Lenain, Thierry:
Verlag: London, Reaktion Books, 2011. (2011)
ISBN 10: 1861898509 ISBN 13: 9781861898500
Gebraucht Hardcover Anzahl: 1

Buchbeschreibung London, Reaktion Books, 2011., 2011. The history of a modern obsession. 383 p. Hardcover with dust jacket. Artikel-Nr. 6945EB

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