False Impressions: The Hunt for Big-Time Art Fakes

Thomas Hoving, Author Simon & Schuster $25.5 (366p) ISBN 978-0-684-81134-5
Take care if you're planning to buy a Renoir landscape or a Manet--there are art fakers who can convincingly simulate the former in two hours, the latter in three, according to Hoving in this wry guide to the world of art forgeries. Hoving (Making the Mummies Dance), former director of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, devotes the first several chapters to a chronological history of art faking; some readers may find this section too detailed and anecdotal. The livelier part of the book involves Hoving's reminiscences about his experiences as a student at Princeton, his apprenticeship at the Met and his sleuthing to detect art fakes. He covers such intriguing topics here as forgers who have ""tricked them all,"" what makes an ideal fake-buster and the ""sin"" of labeling genuine artifacts as fakes. Noting that art forgery is as old as art, the author warns that ""the art world we are living in today is a new, highly active, unprincipled one of art fakery,"" which he attributes to ""raw commercialism"" and the ""get-rich quick attitude of the times."" But Hoving, who enjoys showing off, leads us to believe that with him on the case, no fraud is safe. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/29/1996
Release date: 05/01/1996
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-684-83148-0
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