Delving into the psyche and behavior of art forgers in the 20th century through the present day, Intent to Deceive: Fakes and Forgeries in the Art World offers insight into some of the world’s most notorious con artists and the museums subject to their deceit. At times, art forgers have garnered public sympathy by throwing onto themselves the typecast of a talented but undiscovered artist. This groundbreaking exhibition, however, de-romanticizes art fraud to show it is not as a victimless crime. The forgeries, each a crime of opportunity, come from a cunning and deliberate intent to deceive. Museums, galleries, auction houses, and individual collectors around the world have suffered from this dishonesty, falling prey to scandal and shame at the discovery of an inauthentic work in their possession. This exhibition brings to light how each forger was ultimately discovered, and illustrates the role technology plays in detecting forgeries and preventing them from penetrating the various channels of the art world. We hope this exhibition inspires a continuing discussion of collection integrity and the challenges faced by museums as they preserve our cultural heritage.
These concerns are addressed by the more than 60 works included in this exhibition. Profiled in Intent to Deceive are some of the most infamous forgers of the last century, including Han van Meegeren, Elmyr de Hory, Eric Hebborn and, more recently, John Myatt and Mark Landis. Included in each forger’s profile are his original works, personal effects and ephemera, photographs, film clips, and representations of the material and techniques used to create the convincing artworks. Works by major artists such as Charles Courtney Curran, Honoré Daumier, Raoul Dufy, Philip de László, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Signac, and Maurice de Vlaminck, among others, are included alongside the forgeries to better test perceptions of authenticity.
To commemorate Intent to Deceive, International Arts & Artists (IA&A) is pleased to announce the production of its first interactive, online exhibition catalogue. Given the ongoing nature of forgery, an evolving online catalogue best illustrates the continuing deceit and beguilement entangled within the art world.
Intent to Deceive would not have been possible without the vision and spirit of our curator, Colette Loll, who came to me in February 2011 with a desire to get this information out to the broadest possible public. IA&A has been grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with her and we are all indebted to her exhaustive efforts and thorough research. Likewise, we are extremely grateful for the writers and editors that contributed to this project, including Tom Flynn, Mark Forgy, Patricia Hevey, Friso Lammertse, David Lee, Jeri Monroe, Jeffrey Taylor and Alec Wilkinson. We are also grateful for the generous assistance and support from Bruker Elemental, which kindly contributed towards the success of this project.
We wish to thank our venues for their overwhelming enthusiasm for the project and commitment to host the exhibition. At the Michele & Donald D’Amour Museum, Springfield Museums, Massachusetts, Heather Haskell, director of art museums and collections, and Julia Courtney, curator of art; at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida, Steven High, executive director, Virginia Brilliant, chief curator, and assistant curator, Chris Jones; at the Canton Museum of Art, Ohio, M. J. Albacete, executive director, and Lynnda Arrasmith, curator of collections; and at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, E. Michael Whittington, president and chief executive officer, and Alison B. Amick, curator of collections.
Our greatest debt of gratitude goes to the lenders of Intent to Deceive, whose support made the exhibition possible. We are grateful to the institutions who lent to the exhibition, including Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; The Samuel Courtauld Trust, The Courtauld Gallery, London, England; Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum, Lafayette, Louisiana; Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota; Joseph Allen Skinner Museum of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma; Richmond Art Museum, Indiana; John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida; Weatherspoon Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, North Carolina; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. In addition, the exhibition would not be possible without the generosity of the private lenders, particularly Mark Forgy, Elmyr de Hory’s former assistant and heir to his estate, who has graciously loaned ten works by de Hory, as well as many of his personal affects, including de Hory’s dramatic cape and the dubious identity documents that created his alias. John Myatt’s representative, Washington Green Fine Art & Castle Galleries in the United Kingdom, provided many of his loans and also coordinated the loans of various individual owners. Other important private loans came from Jennifer Bentzen, Bruker Elemental, Clive and Shyamali Fenton, Linda Ann Foulds, Colette Loll, Scott Richter, Dr. Edward T. Wilson, and Graham & Margaret Wright.
Within IA&A, we would like to thank Laila Jadallah, exhibition and communications manager, for managing the content of the exhibition, as well as Nicole Byers, senior exhibition manager, for coordinating the tour schedule. With oversight and guidance from Marlene Rothacker Harrison, director of exhibitions, this team spent countless hours planning and preparing for this exhibition. The task of gathering the more than 60 works from 25 lenders and preparing them for a 20 month tour required the concerted effort of Elizabeth Wilson, assistant director of exhibitions & head registrar. We would also like to thank Simon Fong, Design Studio director, and Katrina Villavicencio, graphic designer, for the creative development of the graphics in the exhibition and its accompanying digital catalogue.
For the Benefit of All,
President & CEO
International Arts & Artists, Washington, DC