Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Signature style

Here’s a lookalike story from the dark side. Master con man John Drewe and artistic accomplices like John Myatt are the subjects of Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo’s investigation Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art. The book examines how Drewe managed to get forgeries of works by artists like Jean Dubuffet, Nicolas de Stael, Marc Chagall, Graham Sutherland, Ben Nicholson and Alberto Giacometti accepted as genuine by the British art establishment. His mastery of the all-important archival documentation of the works and judicious gifts to institutions were among his tools. Salisbury and Sujo conclude that over 100 of the fake paintings are still in circulation. On a TV chat show, anxious to prove that not all his principles had gone down the drain, John Myatt made a play for artistic credibility. He told the interviewer that if someone came to him with one of his fakes and he knew that if he admitted he’d painted it they would lose “a whole lot of money”, he’d keep mum. “What kind of person would I be if I ever took pleasure in something like that? If someone comes to me with a painting I know I’ve done, to my dying days, I’ll deny it.” On behalf of collectors everywhere, thanks John.