Blogs > Cliopatria > Forgeries as Consumables

Sep 28, 2004 10:05 am

Forgeries as Consumables

No, not a political gotcha: artistic forgeries. Harvard Magazine has a substantial feature on art forgeries, including some lovely side-by-side comparisons. One point they didn't mention, though, which deserves some consideration, is the value of forgeries themselves. For example, they cite a Chinese pottery forgery: the Chinese have been forging art longer than anyone else I know of, starting with the Song (10c-13c) revival of interest in Han (3c bce-3c ce) dynasty and earlier bronze and jade pieces. The forgery they cite is an 18c copy of a 15c piece, but the forgery itself is two and a half centuries old, an antique in its own right! Our own local museum has some very nice Chinese pieces, including identified Qing-era (17c-20c) and Ming-era (14c-17c) forgeries of ancient artifacts.

An identified forgery has as much of a story, at least, as 'real' works, and I think that there's a world cultural history (not an aesthetic history or curatorial history, which is what's been written that I'm aware of) of history as a produceable and consumable good waiting to be written. Though perhaps that does connect up to our current events, too....

Non Sequitur: [Via Cronaca] I love it when new technology takes old finds and turns them into vast treasures of new data. Not just the silver"Priestly Blessing" texts, but apparently these techniques have been used to recover all kinds of lost texts. I tell my students this every time I do pre-history: an advance in number of technical fields -- in imaging, medicine (epidemiology, forensics), botany (pollen, anyone?), chemistry, materials science, structural analysis, computational linguistics -- is an advance in historical knowledge as well. There is no end in sight to the new and exciting and challenging things we will learn.

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