False Impressions (英語) ペーパーバック – 1997/5/8
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The former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art examines the world of art forgery, from ancient times to the present, sharing anecdotes about some of the costliest, most embarrassing forgeries ever, as well as the motives of the fakers
With that preamble, it was good to find out what tools are there to decipher the forgeries from those that are not, and to my surprise the most important and effective tool is the expert's own vision! His "gut sense" so to speak. Scientific analysis is all good, but never sufficient, the last word is after the actual human.
Furthermore, we get a full history on the forgeries from the ancient times, and a few surprises concerning bogus pieces in the modern times. That's very entertaning indeed.
And of course, what would a good "fakebuster" be without a few good chapters on his own carrier as such? And here we find enormous amount of very interesting information from author's own experiences. To conclude, there is almost no way to tell a good piece from an awesomely concucted forgery, that's bad news. The good news is that to tell a fake one needs actually very little: fakes are often times decrepid and silly, with the features that make them stand out, but which evade the eye for the reason of them being so obvious - one should learn to find those. With that I, converted by the author have become very sceptical of any art, and Im sure for a good reason.
I ve been browsing various antiques mostly on the Web for a while now - a good few years. Using the author's method I started to look at all of it anew, and the result my friends was horryfing. There is a lot of unreal stuff out there, so do not fool yourself by saying to yourself "i got this thing first, and this is the only thing out there, and i am the only one in possesion!!" - this is a sure way to trip. Extreme hunger produces greed and speed, which are the enemies of a good aquisition in the area where the experts who are much much much more knowledgable than you and me make mistakes. So let us be open-eyed and open-minded, and be willing to cut a slack for a slice of reality that tells us, "there s very little known, and you are a guest, so act like one" - something that the chinese call "ke-chi", or "The air of the Guest".
In looking back at the book, what I most imeediately recall about it are two things:
1. The writing is stodgy and detracts from the tale.
2. The author can't make up his mind who his audience is or what kind of book he is writing.
Sometimes, the book seems to be written for someone like me who doesn't know a whole lot about art and the business of art. In some parts of the book, there are lots aof background details to help a reader make sense of what is going on. However, in other parts of the book, he just writes like he assumes you share his common vocabulary. This makes it difficult for me to follow those parts of the book. By the same token, I expect that a person who found these parts of the book interesting and useful would find the explanations in the other parts tedious and useless. This book can't decide if it is a memoir of the author's life, a history of his career, or a book about art forgery. It would have worked better had it been more focused.
Having made these complaints, I must say that the book was interesting and packed with useful photos to help me make sense of some of the content. In addition, the topic of the book is interesting, and I am glad I read it. I'm just sorry, because I think it is a book on the verge of being a better book than it is, and I hate to see potential come up short.