Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Vraiment faux

"Vraiment faux" -- truly false! This was the name of a remarkable exhibition at the Fondation Cartier in the summer of 1988. And indeed, why wouldn't the foundation run by Cartier want to discuss frauds of all sorts? They are just the ones to deal with this problem, beginning with copyright violations -- as in counterfeit watches as well as with coin and bill counterfeiting, art forgeries, and openly executed copies made by artists standing beside their easels in the Louvre.

At the time of this exhibit, the Fondation Cartier was on the outskirts of Paris in a tiny almost-rural town called Jouy-en-Josas. The foundation owned land and buildings long ago associated with the manufacture of toile de Jouy, a printed upholstery textile popular long ago (and brought back into style from time to time). It took forever to get there on public transportation, as it was on a quite obscure railway line, which I found quite fascinating.

The foundation, the exhibit, and the catalog were and still are fascinating. What could be more appropriate, for starters, than a catalog covered with astro turf? Within these scratchy covers are scholarly articles on every aspect of copying and forgery illustrated by a wealth of imagery.

An entire section presents every aspect of jocondologie, and even uses this obscure word.
Here are a few Mona Lisa images from the imaginative pages of this well-researched catalog.

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