On Questioning Authenticity

An art dealer delivered two works of an acclaimed artist at the Gallery last Friday. The works are already included in our backroom list even though it will only stay at the Gallery for a week.

Only now was I informed that our Director actually doubted the authenticity of these works. A specialist came by this morning and examined the paintings.

I am not a pro with this artist. I have only examined/cataloged two smaller paintings of him all my life while some others, I just leafed through pages of books and magazines. However (I must be congratulated, for even the specialist himself told me I had pretty profound observations), I was able to differentiate these two works from the other two I have photographed not so long ago. The originals’ strokes were rich and thick. you could distinguish how the artist held his brush only to achieve his desired effect. The image was a nude woman with her back against the viewer. I was drawn to the way the artist swerved his brush with utter perfection to give out a smooth yet plump woman’s bottoms. It was a bit hazy but the gestures, endowed with grace and strength, made it come alive. The artist was inclined to the Impressionist style, Painterly according to Heinrich Wolflinn. But the other two are Linear (again, according to Wolflinn) and has less pronounced brush strokes and gesture. And as the specialist would have mentioned, they have inappropriate elements – a cartoonish feline was incongruent for a 1980 piece. And considering the production period, 1980 and 1975, the paintings should have at least small cracks and crevices.

We are actually expecting the arrival of the artist’s son this afternoon. He is to identify whether these works are real or not. Well yes, who could ever say these works are original or not, but someone who could come to the artist’s studio any time of the day.

Mine and even the specialist’s statements were just opinions.  What we have observed were neither true nor false. We just had our visions magnified so we can observe, examine and critique. It’s a pretty scary job to declare a work authentic or fake. But, I had fun.

***

And so I have realized, our next show shall also tackle on the originality of expensive paintings, mockery and reconstruction. I find it interesting.

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One comment

  1. Hi Ted! Your job sounds (and looks) pretty swell. Hope I can have one like that too when I graduate.

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