Saturday’s Big Idea
Throughout the history of art we have placed a premium on originals. Therefore, forgeries have represented one of the greatest threats to the integrity of the art-object.
And yet, according to the artist and art critic Jonathon Keats, the act of "forging" can also be a productive enterprise. When Andy Warhol appropriated the image of the Mona Lisa, for instance, he brought into question the very concept of artistic originality, which has become a major theme in postmodern art.
In today's digital culture, in which control of intellectual property has been dramatically decentralized, our concepts of creativity, identity, authorship, artistic integrity, as well as fame and success, are being radically reassessed. In a provocative new book, the reliably provocative Jonathon Keats shows how art has a lot to learn from forgery. After all, Keats argues, the idea of forgery resonates more than ever today in a culture in which "the open exchange of ideas has been rebranded as piracy."
"Appropriation artists appropriate the forger's modus operandi for artistic purposes," Keats writes in Forged: Why Fakes are the Great Art of Our Age. "And almost always, as in the case of Warhol, those purposes are subversive."