Treasures on Trial: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes

Recent forgery scandals in the art world have captured headlines around the world, raising questions about the authenticity of art, antiquities, and collectibles. The timely exhibition Treasures on Trial: The Art and Science of Detecting Fakes revealed some of the most clever and most costly deceptions of our time by pairing diverse examples of fake objects with conservation science from Winterthur’s own Scientific Research and Analysis Lab, alongside the research of several other leading conservation scientists in the country. Visitors saw more than 60 examples of fakes and forgeries from the Winterthur collection as well as public and private sources and discovered the motives for their creation and the evidence used in their detection.

The exhibition examined artwork, couture, silver, sporting memorabilia, musical instruments, antiquities, and stamps along with ceramics, furniture and folk art. This broad selection of luxury and everyday objects further illustrated the rarity, supply, and desirability can make anything fair game for a clever forger or fraudster intent on turning a handsome profit.

Scientific analysis and stylistic clues were presented alongside artwork and objects, exposing the broad range of motives and techniques used to test and fool collectors and experts. These tricks of the trade also revealed fascinating stories about the forgers themselves.

Treasures on Trial examined intriguing questions such as: What gets faked and why? How do you spot a fake? How does scientific methodology assist in this? Visitors were also invited to investigate several unresolved examples and share their opinion about the authenticity of the object based on the available evidence.

The exhibition was organized by Winterthur Museum & Gardens and was co-curated by Colette Loll and Winterthur’s Director of Collections and Senior Curator of Textiles Linda Eaton. The online exhibition is available here:

http://treasuresontrial.winterthur.org/

Sleight of Hand

Sleight of Hand reflects on the line between illusion and truth in the history of art and beyond. The exhibition features a selection of paintings by forger Mark Landis, alongside works by contemporary artists including Vic Muniz, Richard McMahan, and Conrad Bakker whose various series use history as a lens through which to consider surface and reality, authenticity and authorship.

Consulting Curator, Colette Loll. This exhibition was on view at The Sun Valley Arts Center the Arts, Idaho from September 25-November 27, 2015.

Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World

 

This groundbreaking exhibition highlights five of the world’s most notorious art forgers, whose collective influence spans much of the 20th century to the present day. Intent to Deceive illuminates their dubious legacies and examines how their talents, charm, and audacity beguiled and exploited art collectors, dealers and institutions, to an often-shocking scale. Han van Meegeren, Elmyr de Hory and Eric Hebborn all shook the art world with their exploits, garnering each of them worldwide notoriety – and sometimes untimely death, shrouded in mystery. More recently, John Myatt and Mark Landis have been in the news for their prolific and stylistically diverse art frauds, even landing one in jail.

Included in each forger’s profile are their “original” works, personal effects and ephemera, photographs, film clips, and materials each used to create these convincing artworks – materials which ultimately became the means by which experts unraveled their deceptions. Original works by artists including Charles Courtney Curran, Honoré Daumier, Raoul Dufy, Philip de László, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso and Paul Signac are juxtaposed with these dubious works to test viewers’ perceptions of authenticity.

The ultimate question proposed by Intent to Deceive is whether the uncovering of a painting’s false history actually makes it any less a work of art. Does discovery of a fake change our relationship with a work of art? Admirers and collectors of the work of several contemporary forgers admit that they possess great works of art – no matter that they are forgeries. The brilliance and skill evidenced by these paintings are undeniable; in fact, their murky history, as well as the plot twists and human drama behind them, makes them all the more interesting.

 

This exhibition was organized by International Arts & Artists and curated by Colette Loll.

Intent to Deceive was on view at: the Michelle and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield Massachusetts (January 21, 2014 – April 27, 2014); The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL (May 21, 2014 – August 2, 2014); Canton Museum of Art, OH (August 28, 2014 – October 26, 2014); Oklahoma City Museum of Art, OK (February 14, 2015 – May 10, 2015); and Reading Public Museum, PA (June 6, 2015 – September 7, 2015)

To learn more about the exhibition please visit the online catalogue  at www.intenttodeceive.org

 

B is for Buttersworth, F is for Forgery

 

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Hidden in plain sight among 35 paintings by 19th century maritime artist James Edward Butterworth is a modern forgery. With more than an estimated 30% of the art market comprised of fakes and forgeries, this exhibition raises awareness of this particular crime in the art world, no less serious for its ubiquity. Visitors to this presentation are asked to examine the paintings for style and composition techniques, and see if they can detect the forgery from the authentic paintings.

Consulting Curator, Colette Loll. This exhibition was on view at The Mariners’ Museum, Norfolk, Virginia from October 25, 2014-April 16, 2015.

The Dark Arts: Thieves, Forgers and Tomb Raiders

The Dark Arts: Thieves, Forgers and Tomb Raiders presents works of art and accompanying stories of infamous crimes in the arts. Curated by Colette Loll in partnership with the Association for Research into Crimes against Art (ARCA) and the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, the exhibition highlights well-known art thefts, cases of looting, and even works of prolific forgers who fooled the art world for years – generating shock waves which are still felt today.

This exhibition was on view at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment, Washington, DC from February 10, 2010-May 17, 2010.