Saturday, November 08, 2014

Fake and Foregeries - Technology Fall 2014

1. GENEVA (AFP).- Dressed in an immaculate white lab coat, Sandra Mottaz stares intently through a stereo microscope at a bold-coloured painting purportedly by French master Fernand Leger, searching for signs of forgery.
"Here, we can make out vertical lines in what could be a grid," Mottaz says, looking up from the shiny white instrument providing a three-dimensional view of the painting.
That could signal the painting is a fake, but artists themselves also use the technique to copy their own work onto different formats, so more tests are needed, she says.
Mottaz and her colleagues at the Fine Arts Expert Institute (FAEI) use cutting-edge scientific methods like
radiocarbon dating and infrared reflectography to determine the authenticity of artworks, and sometimes to uncover unknown masterpieces.
"When you buy an apartment, you always get an appraisal first. But in the art world, until recently, you could buy works for 10 million euros without sufficient documentation," says FAEI chief Yann Walther.
But that is changing amid soaring prices in an art market where works worth an estimated $60 billion change hands each year.
The ballooning amounts up for grabs have also hiked the incentive for art forgers, and scientists like Walther and Mottaz are increasingly being called upon to supplement efforts by traditional art experts and conservationists to authenticate works.
Half artwork in circulation fake
The art world has in recent years been rocked by forgery scandals, revealing fake works attributed to a long line of masters, including Paul Gauguin, Marc Chagall, Jackson Pollock and Leger.
Experts estimate a full half of all artworks in circulation today are fake -- a number that is difficult to verify but that Walther says is, if anything, an underestimate. ... more

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