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Forgeries Gone Wild!

How widespread is art forgery? Experts say it’s wildly rampant. In part three in this series, we ask: Is it time to reconsider the economy of images?

The official portrait of Mao Zedong, attributed to Zhang Zhenshi
“The City That Never Sleeps” (1978) by Pei-Shen Qian. The New York Times actually has a review of his work.
Painting by Pei-Shen Qian

I am underpaid.

One of these paintings is by Mark Rothko, and the other is by Pei-Shen Qian mimicking Rothko. I already forgot which is which, but Qian’s sold for $8.3 million.

The Copy Is the Norm

From the intro of Orson Welles’ F for Fake (1973).

The Cult of the Original

Let’s call it a
Supermeme Supercut.
  1. Auction houses (commerce)
  2. Experts and academics (scholarship)
  3. Authenticators (science)
  4. Forgers (reproduction)
Artist Tom Sanford commissioned a Chinese painting reproduction company (like the one that produced my Vermeer) to create 40 copies of the official portrait of Chairman Mao.
He then painted new portraits over the top of each image, and released it as The New Maoseum.

The Relievo



The back of “Sunflowers,” a Relievo created by Fujifilm.
A Canon Océ printer recreating Rembrandt’s “The Jewish Bride.”

The Artists’ Prophecy

Andy Warhol would have loved this this clip from Star Trek Voyager in which a crew member argues with the replicator over the types of tomato soup.

The copy is the original.

“Panel Four” (1962), Mark Rothko, with software projecting a color correction over the top of it. (How it works.) Source: Boston Globe.
Watch, closely, this Picture of Dorian Gray fan art! (Source: Deviant Art.)

All art is quite useless.

Frida Kahlo, “The Two Fridas,” 1939.
The FAQ for the exhibit makes the case for why a replication exhibit is necessary. It also, paradoxically, notes that photography is not allowed.

Qian Returns Home

Andy Warhol in Tiananmen Square in 1982, with the official Mao portrait visible in the background. Warhol’s Mao paintings were recently banned from exhibits. (Image via TV France International.)



A Pandaemonium Revolver Collection. Season 2 stars @anildash @alanalevinson @ftrain @hipstercrite @itsthebrandi @jamielaurenkeiles @vijithassar @yungrama @zeynep. Season 1 available on DVD shortly.

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