The media almost always overlook what is truly interesting about fakes: not who made them, who sold them, or who was in on the scam and who was not, but what they tell us about art and those who produce it.
“Largest Exhibition of the Life and Art of Frida Kahlo Makes U.S. Premiere in San Diego,” the press release announces. On its website, the show bills itself as “the only exhibition worldwide where Frida Kahlo’s paintings can be seen in one place.” But in reality, The Complete Frida Kahlo: Her Paintings. Her Life. Her Story is comprised almost entirely of copies.
China has become famous for its shanzhai culture of imitation, and now, to a long list of arty knockoffs that includes everything from iconic paintings to pop art, we can add museum tickets. Specifically, tickets to the Louvre.
A museum in China has been forced to shut its doors — not because of a lack of visitors or funding, but because word got out that the vast majority of its 40,000-piece collection is fake. Woops.
Although photographs have always been altered, new tools and the pervasiveness of images have made a skeptical viewer. Still, photography’s power holds strong.