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Treasures Bold
12-06-2019, 10:19 AM,
Treasures Bold
Shape-shifters of Transculturation Giovanni Bastianiniʼs Forgeries as Embodiment of an Aesthetic Patriotism
Tina Öcal (Heidelberg University)

Just what is it that makes art forgeries so different, so appealing, as long as they are considered original? one could ask, thus quoting and adapting the title of Pop artist Richard Hamilton̓s famous collage Just what is it that makes today̓s homes so different, so appealing? from 1956. Yet, after a forgery has been revealed as such, it loses the favour of the beholder and the once “true, beautiful and good” appears tainted.* While the artwork itself remains un changed, the process of ex posure changes the way we look at the artwork. So it is the context — such as art historical classifications — rather than the artwork itself that changes perception and valuation. To this effect art forgeries can be thought of as semantic shape-shifters, since they shift their shape in our gaze from supposedly authentic to false, once exposed (Öcal 2014: 176). In contrast to the ambiguous images also known as reversible figures, this metamorphosis in the reception of forgeries is irreversible, since we will never look at a forgery the same way we did when we considered it to be original. So, what defines the uniqueness of an artwork, when we can see it in a forgery as well, provided it is considered to be original? Therefore, the pastiche-like characteristics of Hamilton̓s work can quite well be applied to forgeries, which combine several recognisable aspects of already existing, original artworks to a kind of modernised hyper-version of these originals, what in turn makes forgeries ‘so appealing’. Thus, as a child of his time, the forger paraphrases the prevailing taste and gaze of this time into the pictorial expression of the forged artist, so that he resembles a translator, who not only reproduces the model but...

* | Initially rooted in Platoʼs philosophy, the trinity of the “true, beautiful and good” originates from a new reception and interpretation of Platoʼs writings from the early 18th to the 19th century, when it became a concept of 19th-century art, literature, and culture (Kurz 2015).

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