Showing posts with label Michelangelo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Michelangelo. Show all posts

November 15, 2016

When a Master Forger is a Master Artist

"Michelangelo Buonarotti" 2016, by Charles Vincent Sabba
Fingerprint ink on Police criminal print card
In 1446, Michelangelo Buonarroti sculpted a sleeping cupid out of marble and buried it in "sour" earth. This acidic dirt made the sculpture appear much older than it really was. The cupid was sold as an antiquity through a dealer to Cardinal Raffaelle Riario di San Giorgio. Someone informed the cardinal that he had been duped and he demanded his money back; he gave up an original Michelangelo, which undoubtedly would be worth a fortune today. This cupid ended up in the d'Este collection in Mantua, but unfortunately, is lost today.

June 24, 2015

Wednesday, June 24, 2015 - ,, No comments

Noah Charney's book "The Art of Forgery" discussed on NPR's "Fresh Air" with Dave Davies

Here's a link to NPR's Fresh Air program on ARCA Founder Noah Charney's recently published book "The Art of Forgery":
Michelangelo is known for masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel and the statue of David, but most people probably don't know that he actually got his start in forgery. The great artist began his career as a forger of ancient Roman sculptures, art scholar Noah Charney tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. 
By the time Michelangelo's forgery was revealed, the Renaissance master was famous in his own right. But many other artistic forgers continue to copy the work of past artists in the hopes of passing their creations off as authentic. 
The art industry, says Charney, is a "multibillion-dollar-a-year legitimate industry that is so opaque you can't quite understand why anyone participates in it." In his new book, The Art of Forgery, Charney traces a tradition of fakes and forgeries that dates back to the Renaissance. 
In many instances, forgery is a question of economics; a forgery that is authenticated may be worth millions of dollars. But Charney says that many other art forgers are doing it as a "sort of passive aggressive revenge" against an art world that was not interested in their original work — but was too dim to tell forgeries from true masterpieces. 
Charney adds that the business practices of the art world provide a "fertile ground" for criminals: "You do not necessarily know who the seller is when you're buying a work of art. You might have to send cash to anonymous Swiss bank account. You may or may not get certificates of authenticity or any paperwork attributing to the authentic nature of the work in question. You may not be certain the seller actually owns the work. You might have gentlemen's agreements and handshakes rather than contracts — and this is normal in the legitimate art world."

March 6, 2013

Do art forgers prey on our treasure hunt instinct?

Here are two videos published in the last week that can be tied together to explain the art market's vulnerability to forgeries:

From Ljublijana, Slovenia, ARCA founder Noah Charney discusses "Leonardo da Vinci and the Treasure Hunt Instinct" where he discusses how art satisfies our desire to find what is hidden, to solve puzzles, riddles and mysteries (toward the end of his lecture he mentions that 2/3 of known art produced by old master painters is considered lost).

On CBS Sunday Morning News, Ken Perenyi confessed that he brought newly created paintings aged to fool art experts with the intent of obtaining a more lucrative attribution on more than 1,000 art pieces -- his contribution to the art market. Note that the FBI has never filed charges against Perenyi (according to CBS) and that the 'statue of limitation on his misdeeds as run out' despite Perenyi's admission that he 'lied to the agents' because in Perenyi's world 'it's survival, part of the game'. In this video, appraiser Brenda Simonson-Mohle calls Perenyi a "thief on the loose" and calls forgery "pretty much bank robbery with paintbrush."

Ken Perenyi, in the tradition of art forgers Elmyr de Hory (Clifford Irving wrote Fake! The Story of Elmyr De Hory, the Greatest Art Forger of Our Time in 1969) and Eric Hebborn (Drawn to Trouble in 1991), has written the confessional Caveat Emptor: The Secret Life of An American Art Forger (reviewed last summer by Jonathan Lopez in the Wall Street Journal last summer).

March 30, 2011

Wednesday, March 30, 2011 - ,,, No comments

A New Exhibition at Rome's Palazzo Farnese and the Pope Behind the Art Collection

Titian's Pope Paul III and his Grandsons (Museo di Capodimonte)
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, Editor-in-Chief

Today published an article by Noah Charney, ARCA's founder, about a special exhibition at the French embassy in Rome, "Rome's Palazzo Farnese Opens Its Doors to Offer a Rare Glimpse of Renaissance Art Marvels"in the family's former Renaissance home.  The Farnese family piqued my interest in 2009 while visiting Napoli's Museo di Capodimonte where paintings by Titian and Raphael depict the life of Alessandro Farnese, cardinal, grandfather, and pope.

Alessandro Farnese, born in 1468, was elected as a cardinal at the age of 25 and fathered four illegitimate children before he was ordained a priest at the age of 51.  Reigning as Pope Paul III from 1534-1549, he opened the Council of Trent in 1545 to discuss church doctrine and correct abuses such as the selling of salvation to parishioners; urged a crusade against the Turks; befriended Fran├žois I (Leonardo da Vinci's last patron); and was unable to resolve Henry VIII's break with Rome over his numerous divorces.

Napoli is a complex city where civilians honk at the carabinieri cars to drive faster, the trash piles up on the street, the archaeological museum displays erotic art from Pompeii, and art works by Caravaggio, on the run from a murder charge in Rome, decorate the chapel of one of the city's charitable institutions.  On the top of a hill overlooking the Bay of Naples, the Museo di Capodimonte, the former palazzo of Charles of Bourbon displays the Farnese art and antiquities collection inherited when his mother, Elizabeth Farnese, married King Philip II of Spain in 1715.  The second room of the Farnese Gallery has three paintings of Alessandro Farnese: Raphael's Portrait of Alessandro Farnese (1509-1511); Titian's Pope Paul III (1545-46); and Titian's Pope Paul II with his Grandsons (1545 circa).

Alessandro's sister, Giulia, was the mistress of Pope Alexander VI who made her brother cardinal of Santi Cosma e Damiano, an ancient church that included the Temple of Romulus, the best preserved pagan temple of Rome.  In 1513, after discontinuing his relationship with the mother of his children, Alessandro Farnese began the planning and construction of one of the grandest residences in Rome, Palazzo Farnese, built of huge blocks plundered from ancient monuments.  When he was elected pope, he appointed his teenage grandsons cardinals and employed Michelangelo to complete the third story of Palazzo Farnese.  As an art patron, Pope Paul III commissioned Michelangelo for the Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel; the Conversion of St. Paul and The Crucifixion of St. Peter in his private chapel in the Vatican (the Cappella Paoline), and appointed him architect to the new Saint Peter's Basilica after the death of Antonio da Sangallo.  Titian visited Rome in 1545-6 and painted the family portraits.

Pope Paul III died after his son, the Duke of Parma, was murdered during a period of conflict regarding family control of the papal territories.  He was buried in St. Peter's Basilica in a tomb designed by Michelangelo.  His family continued to amass power and wealth, marrying into nobility and collecting art.  His grandson, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, spent much of his wealth on artistic projects, including building up the largest collection of antiquities in Rome which today composes much of the archaeological museum in Napoli today.

April 23, 2009

Thursday, April 23, 2009 - No comments

A Michelangelo Crucifix? Perhaps...

The Italian state recently purchased a $4.2 million carved linden-wood crucifix by Michelangelo that probably isn’t by Michelangelo. In an of cut budgets and economic crisis, such as purchase might seem frivolous. Then again, Michelangelo drawings have sold for $20 million, so perhaps this is a good deal?

The main problem is that few experts seem to think that this could possibly be the work of Michelangelo. The lovely crucifix (the cross of which is missing) is dated circa 1495, when Michelangelo would have been only twenty. Some say that its delicacy is distinctive, and bears a likeness to Michelangelo’s Vatican Pieta, made when the artist was twenty-four. But most scholars worldwide cite a number of concerns regarding the attribution to Michelangelo. One, there is no known wooden sculpture by Michelangelo in existence. A crucifix from 1492 at Santo Spirito in Florence is thought by some to have been one of Michelangelo’s earliest works, but this is unconfirmed and far from the general consensus. Two, Michelangelo’s many biographers, in particular the man who idolized him, Giorgio Vasari (whose famous biography of Renaissance artists, The Lives of the Artists was written so as to feature Michelangelo as the culmination of centuries of artistic geniuses, the chapter on Michelangelo being many times longer than any other artist) does not mention either the construction of this crucifix or any work in wood by Michelangelo. It is true that half to two-thirds of all artworks by pre-Modern artists that we know once existed (from references to them in contemporary documents, contracts, diaries, biographies, etc) are considered “lost:” a piece of optimistic art historical terminology that suggests that the works might have been destroyed or just might be found—so the re-emergence of works by great artists is entirely plausible. However it is rare indeed that a work that is never mentioned in any extant document should suddenly appear.

This debate raises interesting questions about the value of artworks. The value of art is non-intrinsic—unlike jewelry, the component parts of which are of quantitative value, art is usually wood and canvas and stone that, without the craftsmanship of the artist, would have little or no value. A pile of wood and canvas and pigment is worth little, but assembled into a painting by Picasso, it is worth millions. There is a good deal of non-malevolent wishful thinking on the part of members of the art world. The art world as a whole benefits if objects newly on the market prove to be both authentic and legally-acquired (read as “not stolen”). The owner makes a fortune in selling their treasure. The middle man (dealer, gallery owner, auction house) gets a commission. The buyer gets a trophy. Scholars get a new treasure to study, the public a new bauble to admire. If the work in question turns out to either be a fake, misattributed, or stolen, then everyone loses out—the only beneficiary is an abstract sense of justice having been done, the truth having emerged, to the financial loss, and loss of face, of many. There is, therefore, a subconscious desire on the part of much of the art world to will works like this crucifix to be by the hand of master artists. On the other hand, the skeptics, particularly academic skeptics, can make a name for themselves by denouncing the optimistic attribution. When it comes down to it, the value of works of art is a combination of authenticity, demand, and rarity—but the key to all components is that value equals perceived authenticity, plus perceived demand, plus perceived rarity. Because of the non-intrinsic value of art, perception is everything. This often results in interesting tugs-of-war between various scholars and members of the art trade. And a new treasure by one of the greatest artists who ever lived hangs in the balance.