Imitations, Fakes, Forgeries, Play on

2014-04-19 10.51.55It’s spring.  So spring!  The flowers are fragrant, and the sun is laughing.

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That means it’s time for a day trip.  And today, I met Alice in Springfield, MA to take in the museums there.  Two special exhibits and Dr. Seuss beckoned.

What drew us to the D’Amour Museum is the exhibit closing next weekend, “Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World.”  It shows the pieces of five known forgers working in the twentieth century through today.  Alice was already familiar with the Vermeer forger Han van Meegeren.  She told me that at one time there were thought to be 100 Vermeers.  Thanks van Meegeren!  Now we’re down to about 35.

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I particularly like this one, “Girl with a Blue Bow.”  It’s a great example of how van Meegeren grew the Vermeer oeuvre.  It’s pretty convincing.  Vermeer loved the yellow jacket with white lace, using a similar fur-lined jacket in several paintings.  And of course, there’s the glistening pearl earrings.  Alice commented that Vermeer didn’t do portraits like this.  Another forger in the show created his version of “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which was never intended to be a portrait.




John Myatt substituted the face of an English pop star for Vermeer’s model.


Elmyr de Hory is plentifully featured in the exhibit, with works that he signed as the artist he forged (easy marks like Dufy and Matisse), and works that he signed as Elmyr, after he’d be caught.  He had become enough of a celebrity at that point, remarked the New York Times, that his fakes had value in and of themselves.

Here’s his darn good “Odalisque,” painted in 1974.

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I was reminded of a show I saw last weekend at the American Folk Art Museum, called “Folk Couture: Fashion and Folk Art.”  For such a small space, that museum is still putting on inspired shows.  This one looks at the fashions inspired by “folk art,” ranging from quilts to carved wood figures.  Aren’t these inspired pairings?

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The other exhibit Alice and I saw today also showed inspiration from established sources.  The Smith Art Museum has a “steampunk” exhibition of “humachines” called “Re-Imagining an Industrial City.”  You’re thinking steam…whaaat?  I know I was.  This was a really unexpected exhibit of artists’ works made in the last year that look at a kind of science fiction future.

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Here’s one sparked by H.G. Wells and his “Time Manchine,” which turned on and off and whirred and grrred.  Just fun.

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Jules Verne, Thomas Edison, and Nichola Tesla were just a few of the other sources.  Inventive and original plays on the time-honored culture.

So I leave you with a bit of Dr. Seuss, a famous and beloved resident of Springfield.  The park with these sculptures comprises the courtyard bounded by the Springfield Museums.  A day full of questions and wonder and a breath of spring!

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One thought on “Imitations, Fakes, Forgeries, Play on

  1. Th folk art exhibit would be fun but I am always most fascinated by well done forgeries.

    You do have fun, don’t you, Rena?
    You should but all this into a book someday.
    With a little pickin’ and choosin’ it should be well received reading.

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