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Fakes! How, when and why?

Ten-week art history and theory lecture series

Short course

  • 8 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 15 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 22 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 29 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 5 November 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 19 November 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 26 November 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 4 December 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 10 December 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 17 December 2019, 6.30 — 8pm

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Guy Isnard at the Grand Palais, Paris, 1955

Photo by Robert Cohen.

Join a distinguished line-up of scholars, artists and art-world professionals as they investigate the rationale behind forgeries and the impact of fake paintings on public institutions and the private market.

Following the success of the course Stolen! How, when and why, this lecture series provides a unique insight into the world of art crime with a focus on fakes and forgeries and their long-lasting impact on the art world, its institutions and markets.

While examples of fakes and forgeries abound from the Renaissance to the present day, in today’s art market, recognising fakes and forgeries is an essential skill for collectors, connoisseurs and art world professionals. The significant risk and impact of fakes on public and private collections, museums and institutions is widely recognised and should not be under-estimated. However, the rationale behind forger’s actions, is less well understood. And yet, understanding both the motivations and innovative tools and techniques forgers use is critical for preventing false attributions, reducing risk in the market while building confidence and trust in the art world.

Fakes are distinguishable from copies and legitimate reproductions by an underlying criminal intent and motivation of misleading or providing false information including provenance. Paradoxically, some of the greatest forgers, have achieved both fame and fortune, building their artistic reputations through their crimes, gaining popularity as well as notoriety. And yet as in the preceding series about stolen paintings, these lectures explores in detail the wider implications and repercussions of such crimes. The series also considers the role of beauty and artistic value in painting and the reasons why such forgeries have captured the public imagination and affected the art historical canon. Have they gained a degree of respect because of their work’s outstanding technical execution, their ability to fool experts, an anti-establishment stance or because of media coverage which transforms crimes into popular myths of rebellion?

This course considers a number of key questions, including:
• What is the motivation and rationale behind the creation of fakes and forgeries?
• Why is understanding this rationale important?
• How can a fake or forgery be spotted?
• How has connoisseurship changed over time including with the development of digital technologies?
• What are the main challenges for art institutions and connoisseurs?
• Should institutions expose fakes or keep them secret?
• What impact does press coverage of fakes have including on the forgers and the artworks?
• How does the general public perceive the forgers themselves and their crimes?

The course will be broadly chronological, with individual sessions taught by leading scholars, academics, art-world practitioners and professionals from both the private and public spheres with opportunity for the insight of both an expert lecture and group discussion and debate.

● Fully booked

● Cancelled

  • 8 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 15 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 22 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 29 October 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 5 November 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 19 November 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 26 November 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 4 December 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 10 December 2019, 6.30 — 8pm
  • 17 December 2019, 6.30 — 8pm

The Benjamin West Lecture Theatre, Burlington Gardens, Royal Academy of Arts

£540 for full course or £320 for five weeks. Includes all materials, light refreshments and a wine reception at the end of the fifth and tenth sessions.

Book now