The gap between contemporary art and get-rich-quick schemes seems to be narrowing day by day. Last month, a Danish artist donated a blank canvas to a gallery after receiving $ 116,000 to produce a piece of art, but this month Brooklyn-based art collective MSCHF created an even more provocative piece, involving a sketch by Andy Warhol.
MSCHF has been releasing artistic “drops” every Monday for a little while now, and this week the collective offered the chance to purchase an original Andy Warhol sketch for $ 250. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and there is some important fine print in the offer that MSCHF does.
The artist collective purchased a sketch by Andy Warhol titled, Fairies, 1954, for US $ 20,000 (AU $ 26,700), before creating a sophisticated counterfeit workshop that could perfectly reproduce the work of art. They built a robot that could draw an identical image to the original Warhol drew and went back to chemistry class to create a treatment that would age the drawing paper to appear as if it was also from 1954.
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Once they had perfected the technique of counterfeiting, MSCHF produced 999 copies of Warhol’s sketch, before mixing the original with the forgeries and destroying any records that could be used to identify the original from the forgeries. And with the 1000 sketches completed, MSCHF titled the book Museum of fakes and put them on sale for US $ 250 (AU $ 335) each, offering a 0.01% chance of buying an original Warhol for a fraction of its true value.
Of course, the artistic justification for Museum of fakes is not a bad one. Warhol himself was well documented as being preoccupied with ideas around the industrialization of the artistic process and the mass production of art, even dubbing his studio Factory. It was the same problem that the philosopher Walter Benjamin took the time to examine, which led to his 1935 essay, The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.
Likewise, it is hard to disagree with the reasoning of the MSCHF, which explained that “the capital-A art world is much more concerned with authenticity than aesthetics, as has been proven over and over again. take back conceptual works sold mainly as paperwork and documentation ”.
“The provenance of works of art follows the life and times of a particular piece – a record of ownership, appearances and sales. an entire forensic and investigative preservation sub-industry exists for this purpose. By forging fairies en masse, we erase the trace of provenance of the work of art. Although physically intact, we destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work. By burying a needle in a pile of needles, we are making the original as much a fake as any of our replicas.
But that doesn’t mean flipping a A sketch of US $ 20,000 (AU $ 26,700) to $ 250,000 (AU $ 307,000) is not a very good path to a six-figure salary. You can check out the full MSCHF project below.