Saturday, October 30, 2010

"It is important the integrity and provenance of established and aspiring artists is not undermined by the deliberate forgery of their endeavours"

A Tracey Emin forger has been sentenced to 16 months imprisonment by the Manchester Crown Court for making "at least 11 forgeries" and selling works on eBay for £26,000. Given the nature of some living artists' works today, a forgery of a contemporary work can be easier to create from a technical perspective than say a fake of an Old Master painting, especially since a forger is far more likely to obtain the same materials living or recently deceased artists use than those artists used centuries ago (fakes are often discovered as a result of forensic evidence revealing that the pigments in a painting were not available at the time the artist was supposed to have painted the work -- see link from "gold standard" fakes post). However, from a provenance perspective, it's far riskier to pass off as authentic a work by a living artist than it is for a centuries-old painting whose provenance may be undocumented or incompletely documented.

In this case, the forger not only chose to imitate the work of a critically-acclaimed YBA who is also a highly public figure, he then proceeded to auction the work in the most public manner imaginable! That's not just risky, it's plain stupid. And particularly "distressing" for Emin since the forger learnt his trade working alongside the artist herself in her gallery in London.

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