Review by Catherine S. Sezgin on Jonathan Keats’ art forgery book

Catherine Schofield Sezgin at the ARCA (Association for Research into Crimes against Art) reviews Forged: Why Fakes Are The Great Art of Our Age by Jonathon Keats (Oxford UP 2013). (Keats is a conceptual artist living in San Francisco.) Sezgin’s review is a series of excerpts, one on Han van Meegeren. Other of Sezgin’s segmented reviews of Keats’s book include:

  • Eric Hebborn (the notorious English forger who wrote a forgers’ handbook)
  • Alceo Dossena
  • One part on What Is Belief? And the story of Lothar Malskat.

While the stories are fascinating (Hebborn’s is the most problematic, in my opinion), the questions of real and authentic, which Keats tries to deal with don’t seem to be answered by Sezgin, who is in a position (I think) to really grapple with them. (Based on other comments on Keats, his position seems to be rather post-modern, questioning what’s a forgery and what’s authentic–but I need to read his book.)

Update: Some additional links:

  • Publisher’s book description. “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 forgery through 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.”
  • Oxford UP video interview with Keats
  • Jonathon Keats wikipedia article on his career
  • And some unrelated Youtube videos relating to forgery:
  • Eric Hebborn, Master Forger
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By Paul Romaine

Paul Romaine is a grant writer and independent curator in New York City.

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