Painting

John Marchant Gallery presents Ruth Marten

The Birds is US artist Ruth Marten’s third solo exhibition in the UK and brings with it her trademark intrigues and pleasures. Vintage prints and photographs constitute the supports for a cornucopia of fantastical, visual sauts de basque, as Marten delves into the picture surfaces – collaging, rearranging, drawing and painting – ascribing whole new narratives with marvellous precision and verve.

“The Birds, a survey, came about as the result of the abysmal campaign and election in the US which instilled in myself and my friends a strong desire to fly away. Easier said than done, hence the immersion into the realm of birds! Fortunately that world is deep and wide with innumerable interfaces with our own so, whether reflecting natural history of an utterly absurd scenario, there is much material here to play with.” 

The Birds is the continuation of a body of work that Marten instigated ten years ago with Histoire un-Naturelle, shown with the John Marchant Gallery in London; with Gallery Hosfeldt in NYC and, most recently, with Fountains and Alligators at Cologne’s Galerie van der Grinten. 

For Marten’s upcoming exhibition at the Eagle Gallery, all her works will be certified with Tagsmart’s DNA Tags and accompanied by a secure Certificate of Authenticity, guaranteeing proof of ownership and provenance for collectors.

The Birds will be on show until September 30.
159 Farringdon Road, EC1R 3AL

‘Dahan: Contemporary Monk Painting’ at the Mall Galleries

Born in China in 1967, Dahan remembers how his appetite for painting was so strong as a child when he collected minerals from the nearby Wuyi Mountains to draw and paint on the walls and floors of his home.

But it wasn’t until after he studied and taught as an artist that Dahan felt shaken by the spirit of Buddha, becoming ‘enlightened’ through a visit to an eminent monk Master Yuan Yin. He became a monk in 2002 and his art transformed.  

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The 23 paintings in the exhibition at the Mall Galleries demonstrate the artist’s transition from the preoccupations of a ‘layman of earthly ties’ – which included ‘anxieties, powerlessness and confusion of urban dwellers’ to the Zen paintings of a pastoral hermit.

His Zen painting style of natural environments integrates Chinese and Western landscape aesthetics, but the colours and hues he chooses aim to express emptiness. He draws with Zen, to explain the mountains, rivers, earth, universe and stars, with the hope that it fills viewers’ hearts with Dharma joy.

His most recent work aims to depict the awe he has for Buddhism and guide viewers through their own spiritual search.

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Dahan said: “I wanted to come to the UK to learn and communicate and to see how the British public will react to my work. The UK was one of the first countries to complete the industrial revolution, it is highly-developed, has a world-class education system and a reputation for excellent manners. Britain also has a host of extremely talented artists, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, Gainsborough, Constable, Turner, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. My experience here may also bring inspiration and revelation to my future artistic creations.”

Dahan: Contemporary Monk Painting will be on show until August 26.

Tagsmart was here: Adrián Villar Rojas, Soul of a Nation and Dreamers Awake

From the Series ‘The Theatre of Disappearance’
Adrián Villar Rojas

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Adrián Villar Rojas calls into question the supremacy of any particular artwork. For his first exhibition in London since 2013, the Argentinian artist presents a life-size marble reproduction of the legs of Michelangelo’s David. The simplicity and beauty of the replicated 15th-century sculpture contrast with two adorable kittens smooching by his feet.

This piece is concurrent with exhibitions on the rooftop of The Met in New York, the Kunsthaus Bregenz in Bregenz, Austria and the NEON Foundation in Athens, Greece. 

Marian Goodman Gallery, until July 21
5-8 Lower John Street, W1F 9DY


Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power

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“The biggest achievement of this exhibition is the recovering of the talented legion of artists who have been kept out of the American canon of genius in a way that is utterly unjust,” says Jonathan Jones of The Guardian. Art from the 1950s is predominantly represented nowadays by American icons such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. 

Above is a painting April 4, which marks the first anniversary of the murder of Martin Luther King with a cascade of purple tears. This piece is by Sam Gilliam whose artistic genius was forgotten until only recently, now in his 80’s. But Gilliam’s art is not the only artwork to come out the woodwork, there are copies of The Black Panther magazine to self-portraits of Barkley Hendricks entitled Brilliantly Endowed and Frank Bowling’s unforgettable paintings. 

Tate Modern, until October 22
Bankside, SE1 9TG


Dreamers Awake
Eileen Agar, Leonora Carrington, Lee Miller, Dorothea Tanning, Leonor Fini, Francesca Woodman, Hannah Wilke, Louise Bourgeois, Rosemarie Trockel,  Kiki Smith, Paloma Varga Weisz, Mona Hatoum, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas, amongst others

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This exhibition of more than 50 contemporary and emerging artists, as well as well-known Surrealist figures, artfully riffs around what it means to live inside rather than gaze upon a female form.

The show explores surrealism through the eyes of women, such as Mona Hatoum who subverts the objectification of the female form with Jardin Public (1993) or Claude Cahun who plays with gender identity as a fluid construct in her iconic black and white self-portraits from the 1930s.

White Cube Bermondsey, Until September 17
144-152 Bermondsey Street, SE1 3TQ

Who said ‘Flower Power’ is dead? Celebrating the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show, London’s most iconic flower festival, inspires millions through showcasing the best in garden design and has blossomed on us at Tagsmart too! In celebration of the event, now in full bloom until Saturday, May 27, here are our favourite flower-themed contemporary artworks:

1. Alex Katz’ White Roses 9 (2012)

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In a 1968 interview, Katz described his paintings of flowers as an extension of the cocktail party scenes he often painted. He remarked that the flowers are also ‘overlapping volumes’, which cover one another as they advance into the painting’s pictorial space. By selecting flowers as a subject, Katz sought to introduce a greater degree of movement in the work without literally representing something in motion, focusing on the unfolding form of a rose bud. And indeed, White Roses 9 offers a composition of volumes and spaces that dance across the surface of the canvas. Painted rapidly and assuredly, the flowers oscillate between states of awkwardness and grace typically associated with the human body. Katz’s roses, with their fleshy petals and serrated leaves, are aggressive and fierce, contradicting the serene association that flowers typically summon. (Source: Guggenheim Bilbao)


2. Takashi Murakami’s Blue Flowers & Skulls (2012)

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Perhaps Takashi Murakami’s most emblematic motif, these smiling flowers came into the artist’s work when he was preparing for his entrance exams for the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts. He then embraced the form over nine years teaching college students to draw flowers, even though as he once said, “I didn’t like flowers.” Blue Flowers & Skulls explores one of the central dichotomies of his art—between joy and terror, his optimistic as an artist and his pessimistic perspective on postwar Japan. This contradiction is symbolised by the contrast of bright smiling flowers and menacing representations of skulls. Both oppositional and parallel, the flower and the skull are reminders of the fragile vibrancy of life and the inexorable passing of time. (Source: Gagosian)


3. Beatriz Milhazes’ Gamboa Seasons Summer Love (2010)

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Influenced by the tropical climate and vegetation of Brazil as well as by the urban vibe of Rio de Janeiro, Milhazes combines traditional imagery and cultural clichés with plain geometric forms and structured compositions, creating dynamical and unexpected works. (Source: Galerie Max Hetzler)


4. Michael De Feo's Untitled (Last nude Playmate Kristy Garett by Sasha Eisenman for Playboy, Jan-Feb 2016) (2016)

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Inhabiting a space between fine art, street art, and appropriation, Michael De Feo’s (a.k.a. The Flower Guy) iconic flower symbols and graphic interventions began appearing on New York City streets as early as 1993. Re-working fashion imagery from magazine ads to bus shelter billboards by painting cascades of multicoloured petals onto the printed images, De Feo brings new life to his source material in a way that is both subversive and joyful. (Source: Danziger Gallery)


5. Marc Quinn’s The Archaeology of Desire (2009)

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Marc Quinn’s monumental Archaeology of Desire is based upon a naturalistic Phalaenopsis, a genus of the orchid family. The fine, papery petals defy the properties of the bronze medium in which they are cast to appear almost weightless and ethereal. The work belongs to a series of sculptures and paintings through which Quinn has explored the concept of ideal beauty achieved, especially, through genetic modification. On an immense scale, the delicate petals take on an ominous presence, resembling the wings of a Phalaena moth from which the flower takes its name; the lower part, in turn, assumes the appearance of pincer-like mandibles on the threshold of inertia, poised to snap shut, pierce and penetrate. The title of the work also hints at the sculpture’s latent sexual connotations; the heart of the flower’s anatomy is its reproductive organ, which lures insects for pollination. So, in turn, does this part suggest the human female genitalia. (Source: Marc Quinn)


6. Mat Collishaw’s Orchid 1 (2005)

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Of all the images with which he seduces and confounds the viewer, Mat Collishaw’s Infectious Flowers are probably his most beguiling achievements. On first encounter, we are struck by their exquisite colours and shapes, but closer inspection reveals their imperfections. The petals are not perfectly formed – areas are ravaged by, and almost pulsating, with a disease. In this way, the viewer becomes both seduced and horrified. Collishaw was inspired by the story of a 19th-century dandy who became so obsessed with flowers that he decided to lock himself away in his mansion that was filled with only his plants. His opulence became so much that the flowers became diseased, a parallel to the sickening of his mind.


7. Gerald Machona’s The Edelweiss (2013)

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One of the most notable aspects of Gerald Machona’s work is his innovative use of foreign currency (particularly decommissioned Zimbabwean dollars) as a medium. Initially, Machona started using the material in an attempt to convey the difficulties of the hyper-inflationary environment that Zimbabweans were living under until recently. But in 2008, it also became an interesting way to explore some of the underlying issues of class, migration and nationalism and the feelings of estrangement associated with the experience of “foreignness” while living in South Africa.


8. Banksy’s Flower Thrower (2003)

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This stencilled image may be Banksy’s most famous work. At first glance, it looks like a rioter about to throw a molotov cocktail. However, this ‘rioter’ is throwing a bouquet of flowers instead. By substituting flowers for a weapon Banksy makes us think about peace in a place we wouldn’t expect to find it. The work is surprisingly hopeful and upbeat.


9. Anya Gallaccio’s preserve ‘beauty’ (1991–2003)

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Anya Gallaccio is known for her work with organic materials such as flowers, fruits and sugar. Her installations often change over time as they decompose, sprout new life, or melt. In preserve ‘beauty’ 2000 gerberas are sandwiched between huge panes of glass and left to wither and rot. Gallaccio has described gerberas as a ‘disposable commodity’, mass-produced all year round. preserve ‘beauty’ was first displayed in the window of a London gallery, where it became a metaphor for her perception of the male-dominated art scene. (Source: Tate)


10. teamLab’s Floating Flower Garden (2015)

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With its roots anchored overhead, more than 2,000 suspended flowers float in a white bubble. As if endowed with a conscience, the flowers rise when the spectator approaches, and then descend once again. Offering a way to restore our sense of unity with nature, the interactive installation takes inspiration from a zen kôan in which a zen priest, in the 13th-century, left his meditative retreat in the mountains to teach the path of awakening. One day, he pointed to a flower in a garden and said: “The Heaven and I come from the same roots. Everything around me and myself is made of the same substance.”

Tagsmart hand-pick: Getting our spring vibes on!

With the arrival of spring, we felt like celebrating the upcoming launch of our new Smart Tag by asking some of our team members what are their favourite works on canvas when thinking of the new season.

The vast array in style demonstrates the wide diversity of taste in art amongst us. Nonetheless, one thing remains the same for all: there is plenty of enthusiasm and excitement for the days to come!

Luke Kang, Production and Fulfilment Manager & Artist 
Lois Dodd’s Self-Portrait in Green Window (1971)

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When I think of spring, nature immediately comes to mind. I feel that this piece by Lois Dodd is an embodiment of the season. The painting catches my eyes due to the use of off-green colours she uses and which I find rather curious given that the artist is known for her depiction of life and landscapes.

She portrays herself in a darker, shadowy green, giving her an undead appearance, the colours used on her self-portrait evoke a slightly sickly appearance. Yet, altogether the subject matter reflects opposing feelings, of fecundity, abundance, fruitfulness and life. I feel Dodd is making an ironic statement here possibly hinting back into the ideas of zombies and reanimation.

I also appreciate how confident she is with her painting style. She might mix paint before hand, but she doesn’t mix many colours one they are laid out on the canvas, instead opting for a flat and bold application of paint.

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Freddie Powell, Product Assistant
Alice Browne’s Powder (Poised) (2015)

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I searched ‘the best things about spring’ and the first answer to pop up was 'because it brings the hope of some sunshine for a least a few days in a row’.  I immediately thought of Alice Browne’s Powder (Poised) in which the colours of the season seem to be waiting to burst through. It’s not hard to be attracted to the almost fragrant selection of green, red and yellows on view, getting a sense for the lighter and longer days just after the clocks come forward.

Browne’s work focuses on her own fictional and imaginary architectures, shown here through connected blue lines and the works growing layered spaces between. Perhaps here she has painted spring itself, no longer just a season but a physical space for the viewer to explore and (finally) enjoy!

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Annalise Brocklehurst, Business Development & Client Services Executive
Damien Hirst’s Midas of Phrygia (2007)

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Damien Hirst’s Butterfly Colour Paintings remind me of spring because it is the time when trees blossom, a new life begins and our world becomes more colourful again. His piece with butterflies positioned in a circle suggests an idea of a cycle, with the passing of winter and the celebration of spring and life. Although some believe the piece could be interpreted as morbid and evoking death, as butterflies live on average for only a month, I believe the opposite. I see everything flourishing and it makes me feel uplifted and alive. 

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Julia Ferreira de Abreu, Marketing Manager
David Hockney’s The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire (2011)

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This monumental 32-canvas painting forms one part of a 52-part work by David Hockney. The first time I saw this gem was at Hockney’s A Bigger Picture exhibition at the Royal Academy. It was February 2012 and I had had enough of winter. Spring seemed to be too far away and this artwork made me yearn for warmer weathers, brighter skies and flowers coming into bloom. It felt as if Hockney is inviting me to slip right inside the painting and walk along that lovely path under the trees!

The Arrival of Spring’s vibrant colours scream spring and represent the change of seasons with the same enthusiasm as mine. The rich reds and greens make me anticipate what’s to come and reflect on nature’s cycles, the passage of time and the small but significant changes that unfold daily before our eyes. Conveying the beauty and grandeur of nature’s transience and the warmth of the new season, it sets us on a journey to the rediscovery of the landscape. 

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Anastasia Aya Aroukatos, PR & Marketing Executive
Hope Gangloff’s Late Night (Olga Alexandrovskaya) (2015)

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Recently everywhere I look I amazed by the sprouting colours all around me, shocked that in a city like London such vibrant colours and flowers actually bloom. Maybe I have never paid enough attention? The sensation of feeling overwhelmed by the beautiful weather and nature that envelops me during spring makes me think of this painting by Hope Gangloff.

I feel like I draw some parallels between his work and that of Gustav Klimt, who is one of my all-time favourite painters. I especially love the intricate details and colours in the clothing and room decor. These patterns remind me of that time of year that I wait for in anticipation to go into our storage and pull out my spring wardrobe which is filled with an array of colourful prints. At the same time, there is a lack of light and life in the colours, reminding me that summer is not yet here, but around the corner!

Museum rewards donor with fake art to hang at home

After collector Henry Bloch donated an enviable group of impressionist artworks to the city’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the museum returned the favor, sort of.

The museum printed digital copies of each of Mr. Bloch’s 29 paintings—including examples by Edouard Manet, Vincent van Gogh and Henri Matisse—and delivered the framed replicas to his home two months ago so he could hang them in the exact same spots as the originals. Mr. Bloch said the copies are so realistic, he has to peer closely to discern the differences. “Every museum should be offering this service,” he said.

Art forgers aren’t the only ones using technology to produce ever-more-convincing fake paintings. Museums, in a rarely discussed practice, are churning them out as thank-you gifts to major donors. Curators say it’s mostly a taboo topic because the recipients don’t always like to admit they’ve got a glorified poster hanging in the place of a masterpiece, but Sotheby’s said auction houses have long gifted their major consignors with framed copies of big-ticket items. 

Julian Zugazagoitia, CEO and director of the Nelson-Atkins, said he initially considered the Bloch copies to be a fluky one-off, a gesture that could allow the museum to display Mr. Bloch’s art as part of its permanent collection when it reopens its renovated European art galleries March 11. Otherwise, it would have had to wait for the works to be given in a promised bequest as part of the 94-year-old collector’s estate. (Mr. Bloch’s foundation paid $12.7 million for the renovation.)

Yet as word spread of the museum’s unconventional offer, the director said his own trustees started reaching out, seeking prints for their art holdings. The director said going public about the potential perk could elicit gifts while donors are still alive. “The offer is becoming part of my tool kit now,” Mr. Zugazagoitia said.

Mr. Zugazagoitia said he is aware that such swapping could undermine one of the intangible factors that fuel an artwork’s value, namely the evidence of the artist’s own handiwork or at least the artist’s legitimising involvement. The museum itself will continue to display only original works, not copies. “We still believe in the aura of artists’ works,” he said. “People who come here need to see the originals.”The museum’s knockoffs are designed to look real—but only from the front so as not to dupe anyone long-term, said Steve Waterman, the museum’s director of design and experience. The fake canvases lack telltale brush strokes, and the backs of their frames lack gallery labels and other notations that appraisers and authenticators typically use to determine a work’s legitimacy.

Can you spot the difference?

The art of forgery has progressed step by step with the evolution of art. Some forgers even create fake paper trails. Others are so accurate that even the experts can’t tell them apart, and then science must step in to analyse the paint, canvas or relative age of the work.

At the Piramal Museum of Art in Lower Parel, an exhibition titled Likeness Without Reference – The Cultures of Forgery, is putting the real and the counterfeit side by side to try and show viewers the scale of the problem, and teach them a little bit about how to tell real master art from forgery (signatures and markings play a key role, FYI).

Franklin Pierce University professor tied to fake art scheme

A former Franklin Pierce University professor and her son have been accused of selling almost US$700,000 worth of counterfeit paintings to a well-known art collector, according to court documents.

A recently filed lawsuit alleges that Lorettann Gascard, a former art history professor at FPU and director of the university’s art gallery, and her son Nikolas, sold 24 counterfeit Leon Golub paintings to collector Andrew Hall over a two-year period. 

Hall, who collects postwar and contemporary art, began collecting the works of Leon Golub in 2003, according to court documents. He had acquired about 40 of his works by 2009.

His first experience with the Gascards was in September of 2009, when he purchased a piece through auction. At the time, the piece was said to have been “acquired directly from the artist by the present owner” and brought to auction by the Gascards. Hall purchased six more paintings from the Gascards via auction through March 2011. By January 2011, Hall began dealing directly with the Gascards. All in all, Hall purchased 24 paintings directly or through auction from the Gascards, according to court documents.

In November 2014, Hall, through the Hall Art Foundation, an organsation founded by Hall and his wife Christine, began to plan an exhibit of his Golub collection, which totaled over 60 paintings. When Hall’s foundation asked the provenance of the paintings, the Gascards said the works were either gifts or purchases from Golub, and that they had a personal relationship with the artist.

In preparation for the exhibit, which was due to open in early May of 2015, the Hall Foundation contacted Nancy Spero and Leon Golub Foundation for the Arts to confirm the dates and titles of the works that would be exhibited.

During this process, the Golub Foundation raised red flags about “virtually all” of the works acquired from the Gascards, as there was no record of the paintings in the Golub Foundation’s inventory.

Golub’s son, professor Stephen Golub, emailed the Hall Foundation on March 28, 2015, saying that in addition to the works being “problematic,” neither he nor his brother had a recollection of meeting or hearing of Gascard.

The complaint filed with the court alleges that the Hall Art Foundation began seeking Gascard’s assistance to prove the genuineness of the challenged works.

While a spokesperson at Franklin Pierce University has confirmed that Gascard is no longer employed with the school, no further information was provided. Gascard had been employed with the university from 1997 at least through December of 2014. In May of 2014, Gascard had filed a lawsuit against the university, alleging various forms of employment discrimination.

Alleged fake work of eminent Vietnamese painter auctioned for US$102,000

Shortly after coming under the hammer for US$102,000 during a charitable auction in Ho Chi Minh City last week, Hanoi Old Quarter, a painting claimed to be by famous Vietnamese late painter Bui Xuan Phai has been called out as a counterfeit work.

Phai’s son Bui Thanh Phuong was among the most vocal accusers, saying his father had never painted such a work. “There are only five or six art collectors in Vietnam, so who is keeping whose paintings is a shared knowledge. There is no way a painting by my father that nobody including me has ever heard of just appears out of nowhere,” Phuong claimed.

Bui Quoc Chi, owner of Duc Minh Gallery which had put the painting up for auction, affirmed that the painting was authentic. “I will take full responsibility before the organisers [of the auction],” Chi said.

Despite Chi’s reassurance, many Vietnamese artists have weighed in their opinion on the matter with suspicion.“It does not take Bui Thanh Phuong’s words to know that the painting is a fake, as anybody who has decent knowledge in the field can tell apart the differences,” painter Nguyen Thanh Binh commented.

Binh’s comment was echoed by many other experts in the field, as they all found the painting lacking a sense of Phai-ness.

Their suspicion is founded, as Phai is perhaps the most copied artist in Vietnam, to the point that there’s a saying among insiders that goes “Phai paints more when he’s dead than alive”.

JLT warns art dealers after £8.5 million painting forgery

Major broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson has warned art dealers against the impact of art forgeries after the painting An Unknown Man, thought to be by Dutch artist Frans Hals and sold for £8.5 million was recently declared fake. 

According to Sotheby’s, tests revealed that the painting was “undoubtedly” forged. The firm had “rescinded the sale and reimbursed the client in full.”

JLT warned that in many cases, collectors will not be able to claim against their insurance if they discover that their art pieces are forgeries. However, there are certain policies that cover these cases, according to Daniel Smith, a member of JLT’s Fine Art, Jewellery and Specie team.

“Although the take-up of this sort of policy is relatively low, I think we’ll start to see a significant increase as the possibilities of more forged Old Masters are uncovered,” he said.

Smith said dealers can purchase professional indemnity insurance to protect themselves from customers’ lawsuits resulting from art forgeries. However, most dealers don’t bother getting cover because of the costly nature of the policy, Smith noted.

“In light of this recent issue as well as a number of similar high-profile forgery cases this year, I would urge dealers to consider safeguarding themselves against the impact – both in terms of money and reputation – that cases such as these can have on their business,” Smith said.

Marc Quinn sculptures to go on display around Qatar

Doha will have in its midst two monumental sculptures by Tagsmart Certify artist Marc Quinn — Frozen Wave and The Origin of the World — as the Anima Gallery, The Pearl, prepares to roll out Quinn’s first solo exhibition in the region titled Marc Quinn at Anima and featuring some of his finest sculptures and paintings. The two awe-inspiring sculptures will be exhibited outdoors for the first time; one to be displayed in front of the Museum of Islamic Art, and the other outside the Anima Gallery. The exhibition opens on November 13 and will be on till February 13, 2017.

Spanish artist faces authorship lawsuit

The artist Antonio de Felipe, arguably Spain’s most established contemporary Pop artist, is facing one of the most challenging moments of his career: Fumiko Negishi, a Japanese artist based in Spain, has launched a lawsuit claiming she has painted 221 canvases signed by De Felipe.

Negishi said she worked at De Felipe’s Madrid studio for over 10 years, from 2006 until this past February, when she received a letter of dismissal citing financial reasons. Upon her dismissal, she felt that the artist did not respect her work or had any sympathy towards her situation, so she decided to tell her story.

She is not only telling her story to the Spanish media, but also to a judge. In the lawsuit, she demands that de Felipe “admits the truthful facts regarding the authorship of the paintings” and tells collectors and institutions that have purchased said works that Negishi is their author, or at least co-author.

She also demands that de Felipe rectify statements he made in media outlets claiming to be the sole author of his works, with no mention of Negishi’s contributions.

Meanwhile, de Felipe deny the claims: “[Negishi] has intervened in some areas of my paintings, but the intellectual authorship of the works is mine. Fumiko has not contributed anything to them,” De Felipe said, accusing Negishi of being disloyal and adding that she’s only “a studio assistant, like all artists have.”

Negishi, meanwhile, claims she executed the 221 paintings from scratch, based on sketches De Felipe had given to her. Negishi adds that those sketches were done by Photoshop, not by the artist’s hand, and that on occasions not even a sketch was provided as a starting point, only a photograph or an idea. Except for the original sketches, and adding his signature to the finished works, “De Felipe did not touch those paintings,” Negishi states.

Negishi’s current lawsuit doesn’t include a monetary compensation, but could be followed up with a subsequent legal process where it would be demanded.

Art crime, fraudsters and fakes revealed in new exhibition

New Zealand has a history of art crime which will be exposed in an intriguing new exhibition to open at Waikato Museum by the end of the month. The exhibition, An Empty Frame: Crimes of Art in New Zealand features 30 artworks and explores the different aspects of art crime; theft, vandalism and fraud in the form of forgery. 

Guest curator and art historian Penelope Jackson says art crime is far more widespread than we know and New Zealand is no exception where art crime is criminally punishable and often motivated by money.

All artworks in the exhibition have at some stage been “victims” of art crime and each is accompanied by its own particular story.

An Empty Frame is named after the elegant gold frame, left behind after the 1902 painting, Psyche by Solomon J Solomon was stolen from a Christchurch gallery in 1942. The famous frame now belongs to the Christchurch Art Gallery collection and is featured in the exhibition. “Psyche is one of my favourite cases as it is full of intrigue. There is a sense of hope the exquisite gold frame will one day be reunited with the stolen painting, although it is highly improbable now”, says Ms Jackson.

One aspect of An Empty Frame intended to challenge visitors is the placement of a genuine artwork from the Museum’s collection alongside a fake.

Waikato Museum Director Cherie Meecham says it was surprisingly easy to arrange high quality reproductions of the originals for the purpose of the show. “It’s not illegal to produce a copy of a painting, but it is a crime to try to sell it as the original – it’s essentially fraud.”

Visit http://waikatomuseum.co.nz for more information.

What we learned from the Knoedler fakes scandal

Are collectors “stupid” to spend millions of dollars on a work of art without personally investigating its authenticity? This is what Robert Storr, the former dean of Yale University School of Art argues.

Storr was speaking at a panel hosted by Ifar (International Foundation for Art Research) in New York in July about the issues raised by the Knoedler fakes scandal, which resulted in the illustrious New York gallery’s closure. Knoedler and its former director claim they were duped by the forgeries of paintings by Rothko, Motherwell and Pollock, among others, as much as their customers were.

The question of who should investigate authenticity remains hotly contested. “If you’re dealing with a reputable dealer and getting… promises and information, you should be able to rely on that,” said John Cahill, who represented two Knoedler plaintiffs, at the event. Adam Sheffer, the president of the Art Dealers Association of America, believes that the buyers of the Knoedler fakes could have done more. “They could have worked with the gallery to ask questions… Everyone needs to take responsibility,” he said.

Peter Doig wins case involving painting's attribution

Peter Doig did not create a 40-year-old landscape painting, despite the claims of the former corrections officer who owns it, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday. As a result, he was not responsible for destroying the plaintiffs’ plan to sell the work for millions of dollars.

The ruling, after seven days of heated and sometimes bizarre testimony in federal court this month in Chicago, would appear to end one of the stranger art authentication cases in recent history. It had pitted Mr. Doig, a well-known artist whose works routinely sell for US$10 million, against the owner of the painting and that man’s art dealer. They had accused Mr. Doig of falsely denying that he had created the work as a young man in Canada, thus scuttling their efforts to sell it.

“Peter Doig could not have been the author of this work,” Judge Gary Feinerman said.

Brett Whiteley fraudster ‘helped uncover another fake’

The conservator who created fake Brett Whiteley paintings that sold for millions of dollars was also an art sleuth who helped his clients uncover fraudulent works. Mohamed Aman Siddique helped prove a work was wrongly sold by an auction house as a ­Eugene Von Guerard painting.

In a character reference to the Victorian Supreme Court, which will sentence Siddique for fraud ­offences this week, Mr Bleasel, a former head of the Australian Antarctic Division, told how Siddique helped him chase a refund from the auction house.

Despite his doubts about the painting, Mr Bleasel had bought it after the auction house and two art dealers confirmed it as an authentic work by Von Guerard, a colonial landscape artist.

The painting needed cleaning and repair so Mr Bleasel sent it to Siddique. “He said that as he had strong doubts about the authenticity of that painting, he had started cleaning around the signature. That cleaning revealed that the signature had originally read ‘after Eugene Von Guerard’ but the ‘after’ had been painted over to make the painting more valuable.”

Mr Bleasel received a refund, but said the incident helped form his view of questionable practices in the Australian art industry.

Portrait of Diana Vreeland stolen from Chelsea Hotel

A painting of the legendary Vogue editor Diana Vreeland by artist Bradley Theodore was taken from the lobby of the Dream Downtown Hotel in New York earlier this week. The thief, who was drinking at the hotel bar, paid his tab at 2:45 am, then grabbed the portrait and absconded. However, at around 7 pm the next day, a parcel containing the painting was delivered to the hotel by an anonymous messenger.

Alec Baldwin, the Bait-and-Switch and ‘Original Copies’

News broke this weekend of actor Alec Baldwin having been duped into buying a copy of a painting, Sea and Mirror, that he had long admired, when he thought he was buying the original. But it was an original that he bought—just not the original he had hoped for.

Every single lie Yang Yin has told, according to the prosecution

Another day in court, another day of the prosecution exposing what it says are lies, lies, lies, by Yang Yin to cover up his crime of cheating an old widow of her millions of dollars. In the last nine days of the trial, the prosecution has introduced what seemed at times to be an endless stream of evidence, and testimony, portraying the 42-year-old Chinese national as an unrepentant liar who would fib his way out of anything.

Did it work? Maybe. It was all too much for Yang, who nearly broke down yesterday and actually agreed with the prosecution, when asked repeatedly if he was someone who was “willing to lie when it is suitable and convenient for [him]”.

Today, he told the court he was “very stressed” with the proceedings. When asked by the judge if he felt unwell, he replied: “physically and emotionally a little bit”.  He looked tired and was rocking slightly on the stand. “I would like to request, your honour, I would like to give up giving testimony. My lawyer explained to me today. Today I would like to tell your honour about how I feel so please allow me to,” he told the judge through an interpreter.

Yang is being accused of two charges of criminal breach of trust involving a total of US$1.1 million he allegedly misappropriated from elderly widow, Chung Khin Chun.

The GSA goes after another painting

Collector Myron Kaplan paid US$57,500 for Abstraction #6 by Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967) at Sotheby’s on November 20, 1997. The work was estimated at US$15,000/20,000, and the provenance in the catalogue noted that it was “acquired directly from the artist.”

In May 2016—almost 20 years after he bought it—Kaplan received a letter from the General Services Administration (GSA) stating that the painting was produced under the New Deal and remains the property of the U.S. government. The letter noted, “the last possessor of the painting [indicated] that the painting was retrieved approximately 50 years ago from the Port Richmond High School in Staten Island. The painting was discarded due to a renovation of the school building and recovered by their [sic] relation, a school staff member.”

Reinhardt was involved with the federal art program administered by the Works Progress Administration. He worked in the Easel Division of the Federal Art Project. The GSA claims that all works created under the various New Deal art projects are government property, and when the works are found, the GSA demands their return.

Kaplan’s attorney, Debra A. Mayer, contacted Sotheby’s and the GSA in an attempt to confirm the painting’s provenance from before the auction. Sotheby’s refused to provide any information about the consignor without a subpoena; the GSA also refused to provide Mayer with any information, she states in court papers. The GSA is demanding immediate possession and has threatened to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney for criminal prosecution, Mayer claims.

Mayer, on behalf of Kaplan, has filed a motion in court seeking a subpoena to compel Sotheby’s to provide complete records of the consignment in 1997 and all documents provided by Sotheby’s to the GSA “pursuant to its December 2015 subpoena to Sotheby’s concerning this matter.