Image

All the Internet chatter about Cecilia Gimenez and her botched restoration of a beloved 19th century fresco of Christ’s face, made me think of a related topic — art forgery. I’ve read that many expert art restorers have sidelines as forgers, and I guess the same skill set does come into play. Readers of Patricia Highsmith‘s Ripley books (I’m a huge fan) will remember that sociopathic killer Tom Ripley ends up partially supporting his lavish lifestyle through an art forgery scheme, which plays a major part in Ripley Under Ground (1970).

I love all the books in the series, but as an art lover found Ripley Under Ground particularly engrossing. Patricia Highsmith is an amazing writer — from the first word, the stories just flow, flow, flow. I’ve tried to read her work slowly and carefully to figure out how she achieves her effects, but always get so caught up in the story and characters that I forget I was trying to analyze her craft.

Another interesting discussion of art forgery occurs in the Orson Welles documentary F Is for Fake (1975), which features Elmyr de Hory recounting his exploits as an art forger. The movie pops up on YouTube from time to time and it’s well worth watching.