Monday, September 9, 2019

The Art of Forgery - a really superficial survey (Book Review)

Noah Charney
The Art of Forgery - 5.5/10

I love art, particularly turn-of-the-century realism and post-impressionism. I also love art forgery. I think it's incredible that people are either talented enough to fool others, or creative enough to hit on the gullible or corrupt nature of so-called professionals in the art sales industry (although I am fascinated, I would never advocate for it, and I am disgusted at the way it corrupts our understanding of artists and history). I've read many great books on the subject, each detailing a specific forger or forgery ring. I love the technical art details as well as the machinations behind the sales.

However, "The Art of Forgery" by Noah Charney, is not one of those great books. It reads like a survey course or the entries in an old-fashioned encyclopedia. It details a great many forgeries and forgers, organized by thematic topics, but does so in anywhere from just a few paragraphs to a mere few pages. Thus, there is no depth or detail in the discussion of any of them. Having read many books detailing individual forgers referenced in this volume, I was left feeling as though this book could best be viewed as a way for me to identify more forgers to get complete books on, but not as a valuable read in and of itself.

The writing is clear enough, and I did like that the forgeries were organized by themes (such as "Genius" "Pride" "Revenge" "Fame"), but without any depth, it was impossible to get into the minds of the forgers nor learn anything about their art technique. I did enjoy that there were many color plates throughout the hardcover copy that I had, both of authentic and forged work.

I don't have much more to say about this book. If you want a first introduction to forgery but don't want to know much about the technical side, the forensic side, the business side, etc... basically if you don't want any details, then maybe you'll like this. But if you want any in depth understanding, this is not the book for you.

Again, at best, it is a way to identify forgers of interest to find complete books on them. I had already read complete books on at least four of the most prominent forgers and watched documentaries on several others, so this book wasn't really for me. I wanted much more details and depth, especially a deconstruction of techniques (hence, the title "The Art of Forgery") but this just didn't deliver.

It's a very superficial, "beach read," kind of book, but doesn't add anything to anyone with more than a passing interest. "The Art of Forgery" by Noah Charney - 5.5/10


Please legitimately purchase or borrow manga and anime. Never read scanlations or watch fansubs. Those rob the creators of the income they need to survive and reduce the chance of manga and anime being legitimately released in English.

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