Friday, October 7, 2011

Modigliani real or faux?


Paintings by Modigliani are some of the most copied and faked paintings today in the world.

Even good fakes like the one above flood the market. The first is an original.

Modigliani painted in ateliers in Paris, like this one, which he shared with Brancusi. At the time they shivered in this cold studio, exchanged paintings for food in the local restos.

Here's his last atelier where he lived until a few days before his end; suffering from advanced tuberculosis, broke, without food or heat and with Jeanne eight months pregnant with his second child. Vacant for years but today the remodelled studio is still owned by a family descendent of Modigliani's landlord.
And a block away is La Rotonde his favorite haunt.
But after his death the legacy grew. So too has the job of authenticating his paintings.
Some researchers claim they received death threats and two have abandoned work on monographs. Nothing is helped by a plethora of fakes on the market and bitter quarrels between the experts.
La fée vert, the green fairy, as they called Absinthe. Actually this is faux absinthe.
Even Lenin frequented the café, Trotsky and Modiglianio and Picasso snapped by Cocteau.
On his route back to the atelier, day or night, he passed the statue of Balzac.
to 8 rue de la Grande Chaumiére


Why is Modigliani targeted? The tuburcular artist--who died at the age of just 36 in 1920--led a classic Bohemian lifestyle, constantly moving from atelier to atelier and handing out drawings to pay his debts. After death he became a myth.
And this left a historical and documentary void, an open invitation to forgers, particularly as his drawings--often consisting of just a few lines--are easy to copy. In the '50s, '60s and '70s the notorious faker Elmyr de Hory was knocking out "Modiglianis" in the U.S., and they and forgeries from other sources continue to infest the market.
Marc Restallini, a Modigliani scholar who runs a private museum, reported seeing over 100, from pastiches to excellent forgeries of Modigliani drawings. He compared the amount of Modigliani fakes to Corot fakes which says a lot since Corot is the heavyweight champion of forgeries. Another Modigliani expert, Christian Parisot, a bitter foe of Restillini, but a friend of the artist's only surviving daughter Jeanne,(named after her mother) claims, "I have seen 50 or 60 people who brought me these things." He founded the Modigliani Committee claiming provenance from his daughter.
Also raising the stakes for forgers and experts are the huge prices commanded by Modigliani's works--over $11 million for a painting and over $500,000 for a drawing.Into this mix comes another problem, a range of monographs which could be likened to the gold bar of reference - citing historical provenance to authenticate the art. There are no less than five different reference works on the artist. The most respected is that by Ambrogio Ceroni, whose 1958, 1970 and 1972 tomes remain the only reliable works, according to leading dealers and auction houses.
Enter the Wildenstein Institute, which asked Restellini to prepare the definitive monograph, both for drawings and paintings. This opened a can of worms given Wildenstein's huge clout in the marketplace: Not being included in the catalogue raisonné was the kiss of death for a piece. Later Restellini abandoned his catalogue work on Modigliani drawings after death threats and attempts to bribe his parents. There is a rather different version of this story from Christian Parisot, who once worked with Mr. Restellini. In 2000, two owners of Modigliani drawings took Wildenstein to court in France because Mr. Restellini had rejected the works for his drawings catalogue. Wildenstein lost and was ordered to include them; Mr. Restellini then abandoned his work. This, claims Mr. Parisot, is the real reason for his withdrawal.
Dealers and auction houses fell back on the Ceroni catalogues, even though they are known to contain some omissions. A major Italian dealer has said that authenticating Modigliani is "worse than gambling in Las Vegas," with what appeared a sure bet a few years ago becoming obsolete today.
Modigliani lived mostly in Paris for ten years, sculpted and painted and had only one gallery show in his career which was almost shut down for an 'indecent' nude painting. Jeanne, eight months pregnant with his second child, committed suicide the day after his death. Hours after Modigliani died in the charity hospital the gallery owners started selling his work. The sad irony is that none of his work was owned by his family. No proceeds of the millions paid for Modigliani's paintings were ever given to Jeanne, his surviving daughter who died, like her father broke.
Cara - Tuesday

Whoops, I meant to thank Georgina Adam for a piece she wrote a few years back on the subject that inspired me to go forward with this piece.

12 comments:

  1. That is so sad.

    Here was one of the best artists who ever lived, whose work is revered today, and he died broke. And his poor companion, left bereft and poverty-stricken followed suit.

    And today his paintings' value could support entire villages, feed the poor children of many towns.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Someone wrote that modern painting began with Caravaggio. I have a bias toward Michelanglo Merisi aka Caravaggio because of the Madonna of the Pilgrims. The setting of the painting is clearly the Italy of his time rather than the Nazareth of Mary's time but he had the courage to look beyond the Renaissance Madonnas, the golden-haired woman in the robes of queens of earthly kingdoms. Neither she nor her Son were physically different from the other people of the area, both likely with dark hair and dark eyes. The thing that Caravaggio got right was their circumstances in life. Joseph was a carpenter, the trade he taught his foster Son. They weren't rich. The Holy Grail, the gold cup encrusted with jewels that He was supposed to have used at the Last Supper was nonsense. When the church encouraged that belief, it was denying everything the Man taught. The cup He uses was something created by a local potter; after all, they were using a rented room for the Passover meal.

    The world might be a simpler place if, for generations, the focus was on the message rather than on a need to present Jesus and Mary as the wealthy leaders on par with the kings of Europe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's difficult to comprehend the gap between an artist, working alone under the compulsions to make his/her visions visible to others, and the forgers, scam artists, and rug merchants who follow in the artist's track, turning his/her work into a commodity like pork bellies, except less dependable since one rarely reads about the discovery of a cache of fake pork bellies.

    And in the spirit of Caravaggio, Rembrandt has occasionally been excoriated for painting a Jesus who is clearly Jewish, at least in comparison to the almost Aryan goy most often depicted as the Prince of Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  4. When art is so soul searing, and beautiful, it is a crime to take advantage of those who create it. It may be small comfort, but artists are far more eternal than those rob-wall streeters who are greedy beyond belief. I include authors in the cast of characters who make life better for all of us. And I'm one of those who actually read the words of the Gospels, and decided this wisdom was beyond religion. I hope this does not offend any one. It is a statement of respect.

    ReplyDelete
  5. kathyd truly sad about Modigliani's family. Jeanne, his daughter, had been farmed out to a wet nurse as an infant so she grew up never really knowing her mother or father yet with his legacy but nothing from it. She later lived w/her grandmother in Livorno, did Resistance work during the war and had two daughters, one handicapped.
    Beth yes if we took art's message I agree and Tim I'd say it's the spirit, the creative spark that forgers can't capture. lil riles me up thinking of the millions Modigliani's paintings cost yet he scrambled for paint and food

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sadly, there will always be opportunists looking to make a buck off of someone else's work. It's so bad in the film industry now that I've heard some Hollywood studios release their films in China first, hoping to have a shot at making money over there ahead of the pirates. Whether or not that tale is apocryphal, it's believable.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jeffrey's post is somewhat ironic since the article above was almost entirely LIFTED from an article that appeared in Forbes magazine about 9 years ago without any credit or reference to that article. Ironic, a plagiarist posting an article about forgeries. For those who are interested here is the original article written by Goergianna Adam. http://www.forbes.com/2002/05/15/0515hot.html

    Even in blogs we must be vigilant to give credit where credit it due.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hey, Anonymous, get your facts straight. Better yet, get a lawyer or give an immediate apology to me here.

    What you sent out on the Internet was libelous per se, and if you'd bothered to actually read the article you'd know I had nothing to do with it.

    By the way, don't think you can hide from answering for your flat out character assassinations by labeling yourself "anonymous." You should know your ID can be traced back through your post. Process servers like that technique.

    So, what is it, an apology, or do you prefer holding your breath and not answering the door?

    ReplyDelete
  9. Okay, just a bit of clarification on my part.

    The post that I was referring to that was lifted from the Forbes article is the post at the top of this blog page, "Modigliani Real or Faux".

    Your post, your "comment" about the above article (post) I found insightful and ironic. That's why I said, Jeffrey's post, since your comment (immediately above mine) refers to the film industry and opportunists taking advantage of others work. ...Jeffrey's post is somewhat ironic since the article above...

    Perhaps had I been more clear in my comment you would have understood I was not accusing you of plagiarism, I was suggesting that large excerpts from the article (written by I think Cara - Tuesday as best I can tell from the byline) were lifted from a Forbes article and even further suggesting that it be credited properly.

    I apologize for the confusion. I wasn't interested in stirring any pots - the reason for the anonymous - merely a suggestion that bloggers be responsible to the references and sources they utilize. I discovered this page merely by chance as I am researching Modigliani and have over the last several days read numerous articles on forgeries of his work and as a result have become quite familiar with the material that has been written about the painter.

    I think if you read my post again you will see that I am not talking about you. Also, please check out the Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/2002/05/15/0515hot.html) which actually seems to have been syndicated by The Art Newspaper. I am certain you will appreciate what I am talking about.

    Again, please forgive the confusion.

    I still think Cara should properly credit Georgiana Adam as a resource for the article she's posted above. It just makes sense, is respectful and correct, especially considering the subject matter of the article.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jeffrey, there seems to be some confusion. If you read my comment again I think you will see that I wasn’t suggesting that you wrote (posted) the article, “Modigliani Real or Faux”. I merely commented that your comment (post) was ironic since you referenced Hollywood’s attempt at thwarting pirates.

    Perhaps where I faltered was in the clarity of my comment. Forgive me. I was really just suggesting that bloggers be diligent about referencing their resources and offered that those who were interested check out the original article which was written by Georgina Adam in 2002. It appears on the Forbes online page (which seems to have been originally sourced from The Art Newspaper). Here is the link. I am certain you will find it interesting.

    http://www.forbes.com/2002/05/15/0515hot.html

    I have been doing a lot of research on Modigliani over the last few weeks and have read numerous articles about him and I stumbled upon this page. I returned after I posted the comment only to see if Georgina Adam's article had been referenced.

    I chose to remain anonymous not out of malice but because who I am is irrelevant. It’s not about me. It’s about standing up for an artist who is being taken advantage of – a situation much like the “opportunists” you referred to in your comment.

    My comment is about properly crediting an artist for their work. A cause I imagine you can support.

    As best I can tell from the byline, “Cara – Tuesday” posted the article. Cara if you are following this exchange, please consider crediting Georgina Adam. It is the right and honest thing to do, especially given the subject matter of the article.

    Jeffrey, again, I apologize for the confusion.

    ReplyDelete
  11. In Support of ArtistsDecember 28, 2011 at 1:20 AM

    Jeffrey, there seems to be some confusion.

    (And for the record I've tried to post here several times, let's hope this time my comment and apology remains online.)

    If you read my comment again I think you will see that I wasn’t suggesting that you wrote (posted) the article, “Modigliani Real or Faux”. I merely commented that your comment (post) was ironic since you referenced Hollywood’s attempt at thwarting pirates.

    Perhaps where I faltered was in the clarity of my comment. Forgive me. I was really just suggesting that bloggers be diligent about referencing their resources and offered that those who were interested check out the original article which was written by Georgina Adam in 2002. It appears on the Forbes online page (which seems to have been originally sourced from The Art Newspaper). Here is the link. I am certain you will find it interesting.

    http://www.forbes.com/2002/05/15/0515hot.html

    I have been doing a lot of research on Modigliani over the last few weeks and have read numerous articles about him and I stumbled upon this page. I returned after I posted the comment only to see if credit had been correctly given to Georgina Adam.

    I chose to remain anonymous not out of malice but because who I am is irrelevant. It’s not about me. It’s about standing up for an artist who is being taken advantage of – a situation much like the “opportunists” you referred to in your comment.

    My comment is about properly crediting an artist for their work. A cause I imagine you can support.

    As best I can tell from the byline, “Cara – Tuesday” posted the article. Cara if you are following this exchange, please consider crediting Georgina Adam. It is the right and honest thing to do, especially given the subject matter of the article.

    Jeffrey, again, I apologize for the confusion.

    ReplyDelete
  12. http://testedimodigliani.xoom.it
    Amedeo Modigliani

    ReplyDelete