ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age by Jonathon Keats

Updated on May 8, 2015
Are fakes the greatest art form today?
Are fakes the greatest art form today? | Source

The tricky but fascinating subject of art forgery

This is a subject I have been interested in for so many years - since I was at art college myself. It combined my interests of art itself along with that of antiques - an interesting combination.

Faking art masterpieces

Art has been faked, forged and copied for centuries. The author of this book asserts that Michelangelo started his career creating faithful copies of other works. This is not unusual; this is one of the ways in which artists develop their skills.

Tom Keating

In the second part of the book, the author discusses several of the most successful art forgers and tells their stories. The most interesting of these, to me, is British artist Tom Keating.

His story is a fascinating one. As an untrained and unqualified artist, he worked as a picture restorer. This gave him ample opportunity to study great works of art in detail. But soon, he was working for a less-than-fastidious dealer who requested that he 'improve' mediocre painting thus enhancing their value.

It was a relatively simple step from there to painting works 'in the style of ...' and Keating discovered that his employer was adding signatures, therefore making his paintings fully-fledged fakes.

Awaiting discovery

This was a great way for the stereotypical starving artist to make a living and Keting began to create works that he could control himself. However, when he painted a fake, he invariably added techniques that would reveal its provenance years down the line.

For example, he would use modern acrylic paints or would write words on the canvas before he started painting that would show up in x-rays and reveal his work to be forged. He maintained that he was doing what he did to expose the fickle, greedy world of art dealers.

What happened to Tom Keating?

Ultimately - and almost inevitably - he was exposed. He was arrested and yet his case was thrown out of court. The reason given was the accused's ill health although my personal feeling is that this subject is such a minefield, and so very difficult to untangle that there may have been other reasons.

By the nineteen eighties, his fame had spread. His paintings - both his acknowledged fakes and his own works - were in high demand and he presented a popular television program about the classical artists.

What exactly IS a fake?

People create artworks 'in the style of...'. There is also the issue of 'from the school of...' where apprentice painters would paint in the same way as their employer. None of this is illegal.

So when does it become against the law? If I were to sell you something I told you was an original Jackson Pollack and had faked documents to 'prove' its provenance, that would be illegal.

But what if I put a faked Pollack-style painting into an auction which was signed 'Jackson'? That's my last name, after all.

Can I be held responsible for the greed of art dealers and auctioneers who pass something off as an original?

When I was a kid, it was a popular thing for people to have cheap reproductions of famous artworks on the walls of their living room or dining room. These were legitimate reproductions, not fakes. The owners knew full well that they were not buying the genuine Mona Lisa. But did this stop their enjoyment of the painting?

Art is a valuable commodity. It is traded, like gold or stocks and shares. There are people who have acquired valuable stolen artworks that they can never display. Do they get the same pleasure as my mum did from her cheap reproduction Goya that hung in the dining room?

How is the value of art appraised? Rarity? Aesthetic issues? Age and antiquity?

This is why the art business is such a nebulous one. Oh, and totally fascinating too.

© 2014 Jackie Jackson

Guestbook

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)