January 31, 2015

ARCA Founder Noah Charney returns to Amelia for seventh year to teach "Art Forgers and Thieves" for the 2014 Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection

Noah Charney in Ghent
ARCA founder Noah Charney returns to Amelia for the seventh year to teach "Art Forgers and Thieves" for the 2014 Postgraduate Certificate Program in Art Crime and Cultural Heritage Protection.

What is the relevancy of your course?

Art theft and forgery fascinate professional and the general public alike, but both fields have received relatively little in the way of scholarly study prior to the foundation of ARCA. This course will examine historical case studies of art theft and forgery from which we can glean more global lessons about both phenomena. What are the preferred modi operandi for art thieves and how can knowing them help us better secure our art collections? What is the most common confidence trick used by art forgers, and how can we guard against it? We will examine these questions through the context of fascinating historical case studies.

Why do you keep coming back to teach in Amelia?

I love teaching and I love Amelia. It's an ideal small Italian town, one which provides the true immersion experience in Italian life. It is gorgeous, charming, and the locals adopt our students as their own. It's a great place to spend a summer.

What do you hope students will get out of the course?

My students should, first and foremost, enjoy themselves enough that they don't realize just how much they are learning until the end of the program. Then everything will shift into place and they will realize that they are among a tiny group of fellow experts and program graduates who know more about this subject than anyone else in the world. It's a very empowering feeling. But during my course, I try to teach through engaging anecdotes, to which I tie in theory, which makes the lessons far easier to comprehend and retain. If a course is interesting enough, students learn without feeling like they are "Working."

What would a typical day be like in your classroom?

I tend to talk a lot, as I have a lot of stories to tell. I'm something of a performance junkie, so I'm jumping around in front of my slides, but then we always engage in group discussion. I feel that if there's anything a student has not understood, it is because I have not taught it well enough, and I say that on the first day. So it's up to me to lay out case studies as examples of theories in practice, to make complicated matters clear.

In anticipation of your course, what book, article, or movie would you recommend to students?

In an act of shameless self-promotion, I recommend that my students read my non-fiction books on the subject: Stealing the Mystic Lamb; The Thefts of the Mona Lisa; Art & Crime, and even The Wine Forger's Handbook. Rare wine counts as edible art!

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