Art History Happy Hour

Fakes and Copies: The Cases of Knoedler and Dafen

June 30, 2016

​​In 2011, shock waves erupted in the art world when the long-established New York gallery Knoedler & Company announced it was closing. Knoedler had been in major dealer in modern art, handling works by mid-century American masters like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Robert Motherwell. The closure of the gallery coincided with persisting rumors that a number of works the gallery had sold were highly convincing forgeries. In the past few years, details have emerged that link the gallery to a dubious dealer and Chinese immigrant who painted works resembling those of well known artists in his apartment in Queens. In today's episode, we discuss the Knoedler case, as well as the notions of "originality," "authenticity," "copying," and "forgery." As we will see, these complex ideas become more complex--and even contradictory--when translated between the cultural contexts of the US and China, where copying now operates on an industrial scale in the notorious Dafen Oil Painting Village.

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