Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Spell-binding tales

I am reading a fascinating book titled "The Forger's Spell: A True Story of Vermeer, Nazis, and the Greatest Art Hoax of the Twentieth Century."

I love Sherlock Holmes, scientific experiments, human psychology, and of course art, and they're all wrapped up in these pages.

Among the interesting anecdotes:

One art forger borrowed a Durer self-portrait, painted on a wood panel, from a museum with permission to make a copy. He sawed it in half (parallel to the picture plane, like slicing a loaf of bread), then on the half that had the museum's seals on the back, he painted a copy. He "returned" his forgery to the museum, then sold the original Durer for a small fortune to an unsuspecting collector.

Another forger, the one highlighted in the book's title, whose grand-scale hoax is the focus of the book, spent a small sum on an old painting from a thrift shop in its original stretcher bars and nails. He sanded off the paint and repainted on the old canvas with paint he'd created from PLASTIC, baked it in an oven to create a cracked finish, and passed it off as a "long lost" Vermeer, which he sold in a frantic bidding war that earned him millions. He did this FIVE more times, earning millions more from each forgery. Unsure of what to do with his fortune, he bought house after house in Amsterdam and stashed giant bundles of paper money under the staircases. Among his "best" customers were Hitler and Goering. When questioned, he claimed to have won the French lottery ... twice.

And finally ... a literary take on forgery ... in the late '70s, as an experiment, a "prankster" (I would say performance artist) typed up copies of the manuscript of an award-winning, best-selling novel and mailed them out to fifteen publishers. All 15 rejected them, including the publishing house that had originally printed the book!

Let's face it ... truth is stranger than fiction!


frazzledsugarplummum said...

I wanted to say thank you for your thoughtful blog posts especially those about being an artist. I came over via my subscription to Jeanne Williamson's blog. I am not an artist but am exploring my creative side ... later in life. Your posts have given me an insight I haven't thought about before.

Catherine Carter said...

Thank you for letting me know you've enjoyed the blog posts, Shirley, I appreciate your feedback.