Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Forging Abstract Art, How Do You Copy a Rothko?

                                                                                                                                                         This is a Mark Rothko abstract painting. A Chinese art forger, Pei-Shen Qian', has been accused, with some accomplices from Spain, of painting similar works, or maybe even copies, of Rothkos, Pollocks, and other wizards and selling them as originals.  It's a fair question, isn't it, to ask if it's even possible for someone else, an artist less gifted than Rothko, to produce a painting that could be mistaken for something the master himself made? How could one develop, over the course of an ordinary lifetime, the requisite skills to create something this impressive? And, if it were possible, shouldn't we honor the talented forger almost as much as we worship his inspiration?

Furthermore, how do we know that Rothko himself painted any particular painting? Maybe he decided to spend a month or so hunting for mushrooms or fishing and delegated some work to an apprentice or local housepainter. Would such a painting still be  a "Rothko"? A DNA analysis might confirm or deny that Rothko actually touched it at one time, although that wouldn't guarantee that he held the brush or roller himself.

Chances are that after all this publicity Pei-Shen Qian' will occupy his own elevated spot in the art world. He could become as celebrated as the late Elmyr de Hory.

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