Engelberg Center Live!

Fake Symposium: Fake Art

Episode Summary

Today's episode is the Fake Art panel from the Fake Symposium. It was recorded on September 22, 2022.

Episode Notes

- Amy Adler, NYU School of Law

- Winnie Wong, University of California, Berkeley

- Barton Beebe, NYU School of Law and Engelberg Center on Innovation Law & Policy (moderator)

Episode Transcription

Announcer  0:01  

Welcome to Engelberg Center Live!, a collection of audio from events held by the Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy at NYU Law. Today's episode is the fake art panel from the fake symposium. It was recorded on September 22 2022.


Barton Beebe  0:19  

I'm Barton Beebe, I teach here. And I'm the moderator of this panel. And I've been looking forward to this for like two and a half years. And my excitement has been increasing through the course of the day, because maybe it was for a moment, I was a bit like maybe how Amy and Winnie are able to see the world that are not which is new, we're all talking about arts basically. And issues that the art world has been struggling with, not struggle, and exploiting, and making art out of, for a good century now, if not secretly, before even then. And so I think I will be sort of chauvinist about this panel and say that this is the culmination of the day is the fake hard panel. Also, it's such a pleasure to be on this panel with Amy and Winnie. I'll just say a few quick words about them. Amy is the Emily Kempin, professor of law here at NYU, and is the leading art law scholar in the country. I won't embarrass you too much by dwelling on that. But that's basically the case. When he comes to us from the rhetoric department at Berkeley, the famous, at least in my little world, absolutely famous rhetoric department at Berkeley. And she is the author of an absolute blockbuster of a book and I'm not using that not exaggerating. The title is Van Gogh on demand, China and the readymades. And you'll get a little taste of what the book is about. As we proceed through the course of this hour. It's it's it's extraordinary, that world that describes that you'll hear about so as I was, as I was listening to, especially to the last panel, I thought the issues will cover really go to the heart of a lot of what we've talked about so far. So things like authenticity, fakeness, originality, copying, homage versus pastiche versus camp versus counterfeit versus knockoff versus replica, the original copy, the limited edition photograph, the fetishization of commodities or the de fetishization, if you'll permit those sorts of somewhat more polysyllabic words, it was to say the personalization of commodities, Mechanical Reproduction versus as when you will, has mentioned in your book, manual reproduction, all of those come to the fore, I think in the art world, both the art world as you might imagine it the western North Atlantic art world, and also the developing Chinese art world. Our agenda is basically because this is the first time I think that Winnie and Amy have ever been on the same panel to goes, that's a big, no. Oh, I was gonna claim some big accomplishment credit while you Okay, well, maybe we'll we'll start with a bit of a presentation about the Hall of Mirrors. That is the issue of authenticity in the art world. And then we'll have a little bit of conversation about that. And then we'll shift to when he's when he's talk on Duffin village in China. And I'll start I'll finish with this, this one quotation from the latest edition of Amy's extraordinary paper on authenticity. And it's, it's this lovely question, which really, I think captured for me a lot of what we were just talking about, or more generally, with the fake quote, what is the mysterious mechanism that creates value in a world of unfettered mechanical and digital reproduction? And, and I think that that sort of brings to the fore a little bit of what we might end up talking about.


Amy Adler  3:44  

Thank you sing on. Thank you. And I think I need the


Unknown Speaker  3:51  

clicker. Okay. Okay. Um,


Amy Adler  4:00  

yeah, so So what's real and what's fake? What's original? What's a copy? The roughly $66 billion a year soaring market and art depends on being able to cleanly resolve these questions. But the truth is that authenticity, which is the bedrock of this market, has always been a very fragile concept. And in my work, I'm thinking about how it's become much more so in light of contemporary art. So we always knew that authenticity was trouble. And fake art haunts the art market like a specter. And I'll just give a few examples of how extremely difficult this concept is, by the way, that's a fake Motherwell. That was the subject of a lawsuit and one of my former students litigated this case and brought that painting to my class. It had sold for millions of dollars.


There are so many scandals that Were familiar with this was recently in June when a blockbuster show at the Orlando Museum of Art of newly discovered bus scouts was shut down by the FBI that carted away the art fakes. We still don't know. But um, it's pretty clear they're fakes. Um, or this painting one of 32 fakes sold by the oldest Gallery in New York, the Knoedler gallery was shut down in the wake of a scandal revealing that all of these paintings, which had tricked so many connoisseurs, although not all, I'm told from some connoisseurs, they knew what was going on but couldn't speak up. Full so many connoisseurs that these paintings attributed to modern masters in this one too rough to Rothko, obviously, were actually painted by this artist who got about five to $8,000 per painting who was painting in a basement in Queens acting for a bunch of nefarious actors. He has since escaped to China and maybe maybe when he can help us find him someday. But I do want to say something which is this painting and these were considered to be previously unseen masterworks. This painting, when one critic saw it, he called it sublime. He raved about how beautiful it was. But once it was discovered to be the work of patient fun, the Am I saying that right? Champion? Oh, my God, I've got it all wrong. Okay. Forgive me. Once it was revealed to be the work of the forger, or the artist, we'll see what we think of him. Then its value went from sublime and $8.5 million dollars worth it to nothing. It's unsellable. And it raises this question that has persisted throughout the philosophy of aesthetics and the history of art. If something looks exactly the problem of the perfect copy, or or this division between authentic and fake, why if something looks the same, if it's beautiful, if it's sublime, why do we not value it as we once did? Now traditionally, we resolved questions around what's real or fake. By relying primarily in the art world, there's called a three legged stool of authenticity, there's connoisseurship. And that's by far the most important part of it. There's also questions of provenance, sometimes scientific evidence. But the connoisseur by far the most important is also in some ways very much mysterious. And so connoisseurs make mistakes as we see, but it's very hard to pin down how a connoisseur knows what he or she knows. And really, the connoisseur only knows whether something's real or fake by years of looking by having a ability to see a work that few of us will ever have, because of that capacity to to compare it against a huge encyclopedic digest of the artist's work. So for example, there's this famous story of the connoisseur James McNeill Whistler, who was shown overloads, an expert in walesa's and was shown a Velazquez, and sort of dismissed it with barely, barely glancing at it said no. And, and people rushed to him and said, How can you know, it's not a velocity? You barely looked at it? And he answered, I always swoon when I see of Alaska. You know, as funny as it sounds, I bet it's true. You know, I've heard this again, and again, it's a tingle on the tongue, or it's something you've just, you know, of course, you make mistakes, too. So in in this way, authenticity has always been troubled. But it's a lot more difficult. Now, in terms of contemporary art, and I'm gonna be talking a little bit, I've written two articles on authenticity. And Barton very kindly mentioned my new one, but just to give some context and the relevance to intellectual property law. Tell me when I'm done with time, yeah, sure. Okay. I have no idea. I forgot two more minutes. Okay. So,


Unknown Speaker  9:15  

earlier work.


Amy Adler  9:17  

I wrote out a piece called why art does not need copyright, and which I argued that authenticity did all the work of sorting valuable from worthless copies in the art market such that it rendered copyright law not only superfluous, but actually an impediment to creativity in that market. I won't be talking about that. But the paper I'm I've written now is a follow on paper to that one in which I asked, given the centrality of authenticity to the art market, what are its principles? Can it be codified and reduced to predictable factors such that courts can depend on it or art market participants can depend on it making multimillion dollar decisions and the answer or that I've come up with is that art, that authenticity is actually fake, that it is far more unstable than we could ever know. Or that even these problems around connoisseurship might reveal that it's production contested, arbitrary. And often a mutually agreed upon ruse, and nothing more. And I think this is particularly so in contemporary art, because so much of contemporary art has now taken as its subject matter, the very questions that are the subject of this conference, what's real and what's fake? What's the difference between an original and a copy? Especially in a world of unfettered mechanical and digital reproduction? How do we know? What do we value? Art artists have been thinking about this for at least 100 years, but but with great focus in the last, I don't know, 60 or so. And in doing so, they've created work that that makes these kinds of determinations, in my view, ultimately impossible, or at least extremely precarious. And increasingly, they're important. If soon, we're all gonna be able to have a perfect copy. Then, you know, not just digital works, but even virtuoso works as well, because of 3d printing, we can do that. Then what is it we're looking for? Why are we craving authenticity? Why is it worth so many millions of dollars? And why are we still willing to put that down, given the way in which it can fluctuate as I'll show with a few examples. So I'm just going to pick a few examples from my paper about how authenticity can fluctuate and has become increasingly a philosophical question in the art market. And I'll start with oops. There's the the name I can't pronounce. I'll start with this word by the artist Katie Noland, and it was from a case called shanku V katie nolan and Sotheby's involving her work, cowboys milking which you see here. It's a silkscreen on aluminum that she produced in 1990. katie nolan is the most expensive living American artist at auction. No, she's the most expensive living woman American artists at auction she's still dwarfed by men, but that we can make that a different topic. How much men outsell women in the art market. But she is a very important artist in terms of price and I think in from many different ways of assessing her record is about like a little under 10 million. So she went to see this work of art at Sotheby's shortly before it was to be auctioned. It was owned by this collector called Jen KU. And when she went to Sotheby's shortly before the auction, she did not like the condition. The work was in it had been bent, and it had been restored. Now a respected conservator said the work was in very good condition. But Nolan said, I no longer think of this as my work. This is no longer a Katy Noland work and so the bees withdrew it from auction, and it is now untouchable and unsellable in the art market which which depends entirely on on authenticity by deed sheet by disavowing it, she d authenticated it. She claimed she had the right to do this under moral rights law portion of copyright law. I don't think she did. I can talk about the details of how moral rights law works in this case. I don't think she did. But the legal niceties were totally beside the point. Because once katie nolan said it's not my work, even though it was right it was a little bit damaged. But it's it's clearly her work once she said it's not my work. It lost all of its value. And


we could ask why is authenticity so fragile? Why is it so subject to fluctuate in in a case like this where we all know it's a real but damaged katie nolan, which would be worth something. And part of this has to do with the customer in the art market of absolute deference to an artists word. Whatever the artist says goes, this is a long standing customer but part of it also has to do with the really fragile nature. And I don't mean physically fragile, the fragile nature of authenticity in contemporary art. So if we go to this and think about Duchamp, ever since artists like to Shaw sort of switched art from being something inherent in an object to something that an artist created by declaring it as such declaring this urinal to be a work of art, an art that was something extrinsic to the object, and something that became something could become art by Fiat. But if an artist can transform a lowly object into in this case, one of the greatest works of art of the 20th century, then so I think the corollary is that an artist can To transform a work of art back into a lowly object, you can make it fake by Fiat. That this is built into that instability in in contemporary art, which is no longer work produced. As with the Rothko, supposedly by an artist's hand. I won't talk about this, but this is a Rauschenberg example of that same kind of declaration creating the work. Um, a subsequent case involving Katie Noland illustrates this as well. This was her work log cabin facade which she disavowed in 2017. She had reason to do it. The work was decaying it had been left outside the collector hadn't cared for it. Restore had come in and restored the work by completely re fabricating it, using the same lobs from a Montana manufacturer that katie nolan had actually had the work produced by in the first place. She didn't touch the work. She's the author of the work without touching it. She commissioned it from a commercial manufacturer. And litigation went on and on for years intellectual property litigation. The copyright off there was a pesky problem of the copyright office had decided that this work was not copyrightable. Katie Nolan's lawyer said, of course, the copyright office doesn't understand contemporary art. But I actually think the copyright office was completely right. Contemporary Art has nothing to do with whether its value has nothing to do with whether it's copyrightable. It has everything to do with authenticity, which in this case, has to do with what the artist thinks and what the artist thinks about, in this case, reef application. In any then years and years of litigation. Katie Noland ultimately lost after I think, a third round. But you know, even if she lost in a court of law, she won in the court of art because as soon as she saw this prefabrication, she faxed the collector, this these words, this is not an artwork. And at that moment, she had basically, regardless of its physical status, regardless of its legal status, she had reduced log cabin to nothing more than a pile of sticks. It was done. I'll talk about one more. Oh, you know, this may, I was thinking of flu targets. We were talking before about restoration. I won't dwell on it. But I think it's really just to give you a sense, look at that line. It's this age old question. You know, what, what does it mean to to recreate? And anyway, it's it's a deep question, but I won't dwell on it all, I think it was reminded me so much of some of the stuff that came up in the previous panel. I'll just say a last word. How am I doing on time? I could stop three more, three more minutes. Okay. So this is a case involving a collector who sued Dan Flavin based on the loss of a certificate that collector had Dan flavonoids work as I'm sure you know, you've seen it blowing in museums everywhere is consists of basically unaltered, fluorescent light bulbs.


What makes the difference between a real Dan Flavin and a fluorescent light bulb or I could go lean on the wall in our apartments. This is certificate of authenticity issued by Dan Flavin when he was alive and now it'd be a state. What happens if you lose your certificate of authenticity but you still have your sculpture? This was the question. At the heart of a lawsuit brought by Steve Sussman, the lawyer of Susman Godfrey against the Dan Flavin estate. He had his sculpture, but somehow he had lost the certificate of authenticity. And he said, Give me a new one. And the estate said, Well, what if you lost a painting? Would we would we paint you another one? No, you lost it. You've lost the work of art, essentially, it's gone. He took Sussman took the work to Sotheby's and said, would you sell this for me and Sotheby's said no, you've only got a pile of lightbulbs now. You don't your million dollar sculpture the record for flavones I think around $3 million. Your your million dollar sculpture is now just fluorescent light bulbs. We can't help you. And Sussman after after losing his negotiations sued the flavones state by this point. And the case settled with him still at you know, having it as far as we knew worthless light bulbs, no certificate. So this haunted me what happens to assessments, sculpture, this one's real sculpture that was now worthless and fake but still looked exactly the same. What happened to it? And I had a research assistant. I was I was I couldn't give up and I think I found it I think I found the sculpture. In fact, I'm I know I found it the same. The same year that this case settled. Sussman donated to the Gale art gallery, a flavonoid sculpture that matches exactly the description of the certificate of authenticity. And here they are side by side. So you can see. And you know, there are many dimensions illustrating the instability of authenticity in the story, but a further one, we can see, it's not just the loss of a certificate or the relationship, or to the work and by the way, I write about certificates as related to NF T's. And in my paper too. But also the way a work of art can be authentic in one setting. And here, in this case, the institutional setting of a museum, and in authentic and another, the realm of the market. So I'll stop there, because I want to hear what he has to say.


Barton Beebe  20:50  

So maybe I'll actually follow up with just a few quick questions. The first one is, it's more of a comment that and this is a bit sensationalist on my part, but I was shocked to read in your paper that many museums will now use display copies to replace the original the original will be kept downstairs and the bolts and all the American tourists who are there are looking at it. And does it does it say on the side that it's display copy? Or they just sort of leave that? Yeah,


Amy Adler  21:20  

it's usually not because it's in the vault, but rather because it's owned by another museum. And it's too difficult to transport it for example, or not worth it. It you have to know what you're looking for. It'll usually be sort of tucked discreetly into the wall text, you know, exhibition copy, but they're, they're really it's really interesting how often we'll see particularly with contemporary art that, you know, why recreate? I'm trying to think, a log cabin, maybe it would be hard to transfer, why don't we just buy a log cabin from the manufacturer and show it? This is the case?


Barton Beebe  21:56  

And then one last question that sort of isn't a transition to when he's talk. And that is that I think what separates a lot of these stories is that they are essentially, one off editions of a commodity, they are original copies of a commodity that is coming in exactly one company. And so what I've always wondered as basically a trademark, with the exception of limited edition is a trademark person at hearts. I've always wondered how the logic the weirds Through the Looking Glass logic of this world translates if at all, into mass produced objects. And that goes a little to the theme of last last our last panel, it seems like for the the swells who can afford the you know, the super yachts and the space travel and the North Atlantic art world SmartWorks, they can distinguish themselves. In this way, the rest of us are relegated to the world of I don't know Chanel, and Tiffany, and whatever else. And I've always thought based on my own back on Ford versus Chevy trucks, these are all forms of distinction that the rest of us have to put up with. And yet the logic sometimes seems to be the same. And sometimes that sometimes different in terms of investing mass produced objects with some sort of aura of notice. And so I don't know if there's any way to connect the two worlds. And so so far, I thought maybe we could do this for the full hour, but I'm gonna break the spell and mentioned Andy Warhol. Yeah. I love there's an anecdote in your paper. Sometimes you didn't know if he was signing to work just as he would sign an autograph. Like he wasn't actually blessing it like a saint like it was just signing it like he would sign a postcard or something like that. It brings to katie nolan brings to mind the Picasso SNL skit from the old days where he's drunk, and he's paying for dinner by just signing things, you know, and giving. Anyway, the I don't know how this translates to 1000 copies were a million copies.


Amy Adler  24:00  

Yeah, I mean, I would just say that I think, Dan, one of the reasons Dan flavonoids, such an important artist is that he was thinking about these questions about mass production. He was thinking about, we can all go get fluorescent light bulbs, they're at the hardware store, what is what can I do that will distinguish? You know, what do we make of replication? What What Can art be in an era of mass production? And so he was, I don't think he was exploiting the market for this, as we may see people doing I think he was really investigating these very deep questions.


Winnie Wong  24:36  

I, I would add about the display hobbies and exhibition copies, you know, so much of this does go back to Duchamp, you know, and he did. Sorry, so much of this goes back to Duchamp. And I think in a way, you know, Duchamp was really messing with the art market and with the museum institution, and the fact that we have this very fragile situation. I think you'd be pretty happy By this, I mean he put into motion exactly all of these things. And if we're going to take this seriously, and put that much value on it, I think he, you know, he succeeded in altering what are can or cannot be right, or the fact that it can be so fragile. For for mine, I you know, it's so funny after listening the last panel and, and to me, I think that in the end, I'm going to be saying that we do actually know what authenticity is. We, it's just too embarrassing to admit it. And we, despite all of this complexity at the end of the day, we know in our heart of hearts, we just, you know, the fact of it is just really, really simple. You know, it's our faith in this kind of mythology. And the mythology always has the same elements, it's probably French, it's probably white, it's probably elite, as well, probably handmade, it's probably precious, we like to believe these things, even when faced with the obvious counter example. And then, I mean, I think this is why stories of forgeries, especially the forger is Chinese is extra embarrassing, because all of those elements of of power, have a history of power are reversed. And this is what the stories of forgers tell us. So and that's what we also love, forgers. You know, at the end of the day, because we know there's a kernel of authenticity, still there, and we will then turn them into great artists, right? That's where we want to pronounce his name and find him because we will we want to turn him into an artist somewhere in there. And I think the story, I think that's the story, I'm gonna I ended up kind of coming to myself. So the China has come up, I think in the previous panel, as well. And if France is one spectrum of authenticity, then China is at the other end. And, you know, authenticity has been the source of anxiety for a long time and European culture. And I'll give you this, it's too small for you to read us if I can. It's a quote from garota, from 1797. And he wrote, This is a translation, there is now to be a great painting factory, in which they tell us, we don't know who the day is, right? They intend to copy any painting rapidly, cheaply and indistinguishably from the original, by means of totally mechanical operations, such as any child can be employed to perform, if this comes to pass, and of course, only the eyes of the common herd will be deceived. And it's amazing how much the structure of the imagination of fakeness was, is already there. Like when we say the handbags come from the same factory, they just did a different shift. This is precisely the same anxiety, right? But we don't know have we been to the factory where this is happening? So in 2005, six,


Unknown Speaker  28:16  

there was such news


Winnie Wong  28:17  

and this, you see that I kind of jazzed up the New York Times microfilm, there was this headline, own original copies Nofal original Chinese copies of real Western art. And you can always tell there's something anxious, when the headlines have to be ironic, right? That they're the only mode of reception is irony for truth. So there's this news, there is a factory in China producing millions of real Western art by Chinese peasants. And the news got bigger. This is a photo journalist who won the World Press Photo awards for a series of photos of this van Gogh painter. And then more spectacular, was this series of documentary photos of hundreds of photographs by then the chief photographer for stern magazine for many, many years for decades. And what these were those you know, at the time 2006 These were not just Mona Lisa is in Van Gogh's they were not just you know, sunflowers, these are the most up to date, most sort of most up to date contemporary art paintings that in 2006 people would have considered you no cool and the idea that there would be single foragers in a village in China, every day producing director just seemed like him possible. If you read my blog, I'll explain how all of these photographs were staged. But it didn't matter. It doesn't matter even now, even after I said they were staged, the photographer went on explaining that they were authentic. So it doesn't matter. And really, so I, I went to dolphin village to ask for myself, you know what's going on? Dolphin Village is located in Shenzhen, which you probably know better as the home of Foxconn and Huawei and Tencent and FTX. And really a cooler reason to go there is the counterfeit malls. We will the previous panel colleagues, you would love to see these counterfeit malls that have been going on for since the 1980s.


Yeah, and just so you're aware, that dolphin Village, this is what it looked like in around 2008. When I did most of my research, it's no more rural than like the village right. And, and in the center there you will you see this museum of art in the middle. And you know, this was really spectacular. Why did this place that makes the world's reproduction need to make a museum? What is the function of a of an institution like that? So? So in general, I mean, you know, how true is a journalism by China? My answer is not very. And really, it's not that it's not, it's not that it's false, it's that it often misses very crucial pieces of context of both the Chinese context and the American context or the Western tradition. And so I'm, I've never done this from my work, I try to always make it more complicated. So today, I tried to make it more simple. And I would just like to dispel your notions about that headline that I think even without reading the New York Times article, you could imagine what it meant. So are they really painting factories? Not really. So everywhere I went, I kept saying, please, what are the factories? Where are the factories, and everyone would say, Oh, it was so long ago, they're all gone somewhere else. So I kept searching and searching searching for factories. And I finally, you know, I went to many places where the bosses said, I've run a factory. And so I did do a survey of self described factories. And, you know, what are the results of my survey, it's that in almost all cases, just like with any independent painter, they were all painters were paid by piecework it, meaning they were pay per piece, which is how artists are paid. Now, I mean, in any context. So always, even in a factory, painters were paid by the piece. Sometimes I found a division of labor, sometimes I found a separation of tasks. Sometimes I found a single central work space, sometimes I found a control of materials. Once or twice, I found a clock once or twice, I found a time shift. And once or twice, I found managers. And these are self described factories, right. So the vast majority of the production happened in so called workshops, which we might translate as studios, of one painter and maybe his girlfriend, who always paints the backgrounds. And even in this one factory. We could do a whole gender and authenticity. Even in this one factory that insisted we are a factory, I even have a night shift. We it was two stories. What they did there was paint every painting from beginning to end by the same painter. And this line painted from beginning to end by a single painter was the code for authenticity, because bosses and dealers know that Westerners come and say, Oh, is this a factory? This is like a fake painting, right? This is a factory? And they will say, Oh, no, no, no is painted from beginning to end by a single painter. And I will just ask you is that isn't that sufficient for a definition of authenticity? And if it's not, why isn't it? So? Is it the workplace that matters? Is it the space that matters? Is it what are the you know, there's many other elements, right? So, do they really paint in assembly lines, right?


Amy Adler  34:24  



Winnie Wong  34:26  

When, when it's called for, right? So the by assembly line, I think we can define as a division of labor and a separation of tasks. performed over multiple paintings for a high volume. Okay, now it's possible for two people to be an assembly line and it's possible for the assembly line to take up the space of a studio of an art studio, right. So here is a painter and his apprentice, doing four paintings at a time and Um, these are some of the paintings drying, they are filling an annual order of 1000s of paintings of in the subject of the four seasons. So spring, autumn, winter summer. And they did this he was this master or this teacher was doing it every year for for about at least a decade. So here's a just quick video of them doing some part of it. And I just want you to notice that this assembly line consists of only two people, there is a separation of tasks, they rotate around each other, one person does orange, and then one person will do the yellow, excuse my poor camera work. And then it's true that the teacher will take on the more difficult tasks at the detailing. But notice, too, that after about filling one, I actually don't know my titles, the apprentice would be able to do this on his own. Notice, too, that the painter himself could do this if his apprentice wasn't around that day and didn't want to work. So you can easily imagine how a painter and his girlfriend could form an assembly line.


And copying from Western masterpieces. So here is enough in village. As you can see function more like a library. It has exhibition catalogues, auction catalogs, museum catalogs, and really they were, by the time I was doing my research more like a relic because most people would get images from the internet. So you would get you would more likely paint from the JPEG on your phone than you would from reproduction. But this is just to say that we all inhabit a world of reproductions in which the authentic data that what museum practice we call tombstone data does not follow the photograph. And I would challenge any none of the painters know, but I would challenge any of us to know when you see an image. Do you know what painting that is and what museum it is physically in? And I think that for even most artists Warrens could only do that for about 100 paintings, you know, not all the ones that we all live with. So yeah, so are they painting from Western masterpieces? Well, they haven't ever seen an original painting but have you? And under what circumstances would we physically have an original in front of us to paint from? And I you know, I asked you in the counterfeit handbag situation is quite similar. How often do we really get the chance to compare a real handbag with a an authorized, I'll say, from a counterfeit, we rarely have that opportunity. And so how much imagination is going on? How many on time? Okay, good. So sweatshop conditions, aren't they forced by an authoritarian state or factory of Global Capitalism, neoliberalism to work in these horrible sweatshop conditions? So there was, there's one painter who's been painting for 30 years, and this space lives and works in this space. And yes, I have great sympathy for his working conditions and his life. He produces this type of painting for over 30 years on the right is a painting of his from the 1990s. And on the left is the sort of fresher one. And you know, this is a painter who probably does, he does work in assembly line with one or two apprentices. And he does fulfill orders in the hundreds. And he has a lowest piece rate of anyone that I met. And these are his working conditions. And the the paintings themselves, you might recognize, because they were popularized in the United States, by Bob Ross in the joy of painting. And, you know, this is a struggling artists whose subject is in a way, the joy of painting. I also followed one, you know, do do these artists and get to express themselves how are you not a true artist unless you get to express yourself, right. There's a boss stealer, actually an artist in Los Angeles, whose work I follow for many years and the details aside at 1.1 of our friends and our friend decided to create a factory to produce this artist's work in Los Angeles. And here on the left is the factory had 12 painters or so I think the highest point, producing four There's artists in Los Angeles but they couldn't produce enough or fast enough. And actually all of us put together we kept searching for more and more artists to help on his because his work was selling so well. And we just couldn't get enough people. And finally, this artists in LA got so frustrated, he started a studio workshop factory in Los Angeles. And that is the one on the right it employed for painters. And when I went to visit, I saw no physical difference between a la studio and a factory workshop, or a Dauphin one. And who were these painters, they were for painters, to from Europe to from other parts of the United States, they had ideas, they wanted to express themselves, they went to LA to realize their dreams, and they were also working during the day. So when we think that the Deaf and painters are kind of in a very, very special condition, I would just ask what do we expect are the conditions of artists here? What condition Do we believe most of them work in?


So isn't the Chinese government promoting creativity and intellectual property rights? Yes, with ascension to WTO, Dolphin village became a model village, a model copyright village, actually. And so in the 2006 first international cultural industry fair, the local government did assemble 100 painters to copy a single painting, but then they assembled 1100 painters to produce original paintings. And this is an you know, photograph of the very festive event. And you know, this raises the question, what is what is an original then they did also pass out books about copyright law, you can imagine how often people read them. So I think is ultimately perfect forgery is a fool the world's consumers, right? So if you go to a minute, few years, but if you go to Amsterdam, and you walk between the Van Gogh Museum and the Reich's Museum, they actually is I think it's actually called the sidewalk is called the museum walk. I think. If you walk there about halfway, you will encounter a souvenir store run by this very kind gentleman, Gerhard Wyler, and he sells Van Gogh paintings, direct from the workshop of Joshua Young who is the subject of that World Press Photo, photograph, and also my teacher for a short amount of time. And these paintings are sold out this size of paintings are sold for about 50 euros. And so you might ask, by the time you've walked between the Maglock Museum and the Reich's Museum and possibly gone inside to see a few things, and you encounter the souvenir store after you see the posters and the postcards. Are you fooled? And if you are full, what are you fooled by? And if you are not fooled, why would you buy them? What are you buying? And of course, one thing you might have encountered before the souvenir Museum is that in the Van Gogh Museum, you in the museum store, you can buy prints on demand, hand printed with inks that last 100 years from the Netherlands, the masterpieces of Van Gogh for your living room for about 200 Something euros framed. And I think this is where authenticity returns even for me, you know, which in the end is more fixed than the printed on demand from the museum shop. Or the hand painted oil on canvas work from my teacher John cell yo, and dolphin village sold by Gerhard Wyler for 50 euros, right. I think we know what it is. And we will be embarrassed. Right? Oh, Ellen there


Barton Beebe  44:18  

all started looking for questions or comments. So great. So I think I won't say anything. We'll just go straight to comments or questions. Yes.


Unknown Speaker  44:28  

I have to do something about this artists. So the original work that you showed was on a single, like, and then later on you show like Hi, thank you for saying was the same art? Not Oh, no. That was presented to me via the tip of the bar. Yes. It had a single yellow ball with minimal red and blue.


Amy Adler  44:55  

Yes, sorry for the the slides were confusing. Sorry. That was there was there are two different works of art.


Barton Beebe  45:05  

Other questions or because? Well, while you're Yeah, please go ahead. Thank you.


Sari Mazzurco  45:12  

Your your talk really got my mind running and to Koons really because Koons builds his workshops in factories are being built his sculptures in factories, we call them workshops. It's kind of a lightweight to put it. But really what separates his style of making art from from the claims of how art is made in China, especially because Koons is an appropriation artists and he creepy creates large sculptures from images that he found that other artists made. So I guess the question is, why is it so different to us? Why? Why are we so ready to recognize what Koons does as our whereas what's done in China as a forgery?


Winnie Wong  45:58  

I think the key there's Warhol. Yeah. Yeah. Because in fact, I talked a lot with dafen painters turd dealer. So at some point, as a painter, you realize I'm not really gonna make that much money. And I'm tired of painting. So the successful painters become I call them boss dealers. And the boss dealers who were once painters are your Warhols, these and they know very well. And they speak about Warhol. And, and when I, you know, presented them different conceptual art, contemporary art strategies, they often will say, Yes, those are wonderful marketing strategies, you know, and yeah, you can also call them art, but they're actually, you know, great, great marketing ideas. And that's, that's what we do. So I yeah, I think that our, our art is figure has become more expensive than what is actually allowed within that ecosystem. And you don't you just have to drive an hour or a kilometer outside of that village. And this is all very laughable, right? Like a real artists understands that and understands that you then act as Warhol, right, and something else. And I think that's the real, that is also why we can feel very empathetic to their situation.


Barton Beebe  47:23  

And you you have in the book itself, you have these very rich sort of ethnographic accounts of these conceptual artists showing up and doing conceptual art with the with the local tribe. And I was just, I wonder, like, is do I was trying to figure out so what is her judgement of this? Is she like thinking this is bad or good? Or, you know, so I'll ask you, like I was looking for is their tone of slight condescension or irony, or,


Winnie Wong  47:53  

I wonder what he thinks about that, because I didn't explain this here. But the way I decided to approach my book is by the time dolphin village was in The New York Times, you can be sure contemporary artists knew about it. And so as as I went to do my research, so did contemporary artists go to make art with this very interesting situation. So my book is actually filled with these encounters between these real conceptual artists, contemporary artists, and these painters, and I've never asked Amy what she thinks of those. That situation.


Amy Adler  48:27  

Oh, God, honestly. I think it makes conceptual artists. I think you're


Unknown Speaker  48:33  

right to say this.


Amy Adler  48:37  

I think it makes them look slightly silly. Yeah. Right. Yeah. Um, and yeah, I could think of your book itself as a kind of conceptual art project. So So you know, so I don't mean, but there's something about them like?


Unknown Speaker  48:53  

Yeah, I've always


Winnie Wong  48:54  

found that by like, we talked about down Flavin are, you know, they also seem a little silly. I mean, it seems a little absurd.


Unknown Speaker  49:01  

I mean, they have a lot more power. Yeah.


Amy Adler  49:03  

I mean, well, you know, katie nolan. And again, I love her work, but what is it like hiring someone else to make the work and that's, that's, you know, so it's not just is that a factory or is it's not somebody else's the factory she's phoning it in, I think, which is Warhols again, the world game is like, I'm going to make art by telephone or at least so he claimed my assistant my most right ask my assistant I'm not I'm not getting my hands dirty. And I think when I won't go on about coons because I want to hear more about what you think of what you think of the conceptual just because your book is neutral, but they do end up looking.


Winnie Wong  49:37  

They look silly. They look silly, because when you put it on the same platform, I think we still believe that the hand painted worker in his Garrett is more estimable. Like we more respectable north. I think, even though we don't we aren't supposed to believe that. I don't know how We


Amy Adler  50:00  

get, and even though he's painting someone else's painting, there's still something. There's some spark of creativity that that he's bringing to his copy, because it's that hand,


Winnie Wong  50:13  

which we think when you find it in, you're not doing. Yeah,


Barton Beebe  50:17  

I think so. Chris and Jessica have questions I just think that we attribute authenticity to it's a battle of who's authentic. And it's the local artists, not the European flying, Chris. I'm


Christopher Sprigman  50:30  

interested in a bunch of things. But one is like, why this village? Another is, you know, is the culture of this village distinct from the people around it. But I wanted to ask this question about authenticity for both of you, which is there's a famous copyright case where someone copies a public domain painting, and they, they copy it not in another painting, they make a mezzotint, right, which involves, it's a different medium. So it involves some decisions about how to render the painting in this. And the court says, Well, this is copyrightable, because there's a creativity here. There's there's judgment being exercised. I wonder if when you say, you know that one view of authenticity from within this community? Is the artist doing something by hand? Whether that's the idea of play? Or is it something different than that? Is it something deeper that?


Winnie Wong  51:31  

Amy, and I actually have this agree, I think that all of this has so little to do with copying and copyright law that that is in itself, very interesting. I don't know if we really worked out why copyright or you have a why copyright doesn't apply. But I would go so far as to say that even in the daffin condition, there is like no copying. Did you notice in the video, they're not looking at anything when they're doing assembly lines. So they are copying themselves, right. But they aren't copying a painting that you can identify, nor are they physically looking at something to copy. And in fact, my van Gogh, the Van Gogh painter, the teacher, he would always say, do not look at the thing that you're copying from, it will make for a bad painting. That was how he taught me. So I think that there is like, also, we, where we imagine the transformation to happen, or where we imagined the creativity to have taken place is made fragile. By their practice. It's not all of them would agree that what they're doing is art. In fact, many of them don't think so. So and they would distinguish between work for order and work for myself, some you know, and so there's a danger and taking the craft side too far. Right? Oh, imputing, to this kind of craft, like practice. Authenticity. Does that.


Barton Beebe  53:04  

And so just before Jessica's question, I'm just really compelled to give you a sense of the richness of the book, you dwell on this phrase, stop looking at the GAO or I don't mean to mispronounce it. And you talk about how instead it's to paint 3d loosely and spontaneously into simply aim for a good painting, as you're just saying, and then the dealers the in Amsterdam, furthermore, don't care really about how good of a copy it is. They themselves are looking at it and thinking, is this a good painting? And I was really carried away by that. But I think maybe because I was raised in like a Western aesthetic tradition where yeah, that's that's the real value there is that particular painters creativity, not simply the mechanical copying, but the expression of the personality?


Winnie Wong  53:50  

Yes, that is possible every time you make something and I think we know this when we knit or something, or whatever hobby you have, you know that when you do it, even if it's repetitive, that something else happens, it's like the connoisseur, there is some other knowledge we haven't quantified, right. And yet, you know,


Amy Adler  54:11  

the history of art is the history of, you know, endlessly distinguishing art from craft or at least the the history of art for the last 500 years or so. But the craft is the sort of the thing we're not doing whatever we do, it's not craft. So it's very, your painters are kind of troubling, that distinction that is at the heart of the definition of art.


Unknown Speaker  54:33  

Just wanted to ask about purpose relation.


Unknown Speaker  54:40  

The different scope, so the role of authenticity in art restoration, I was in Greece this summer, and a lot of the art has been restored by putting color back on the marble statues, which is very striking. And they they had exhibits that we're trying to teach I still see these marble statues very differently than we've been any of us have been taught sort of re teaching history and, and race and all that in. And and so I started thinking more about the people who do the art restoration, what their, what their reference is for that, and what the what the code of ethics is. I mean, so if we're wondering about, like, the authentic painting, and you're restoring it, or you're cleaning it, I'm just wondering what the relationship is between those practices. And the idea of the authentic work. visa vie like the difference between the flavor and the or the duff and stuff like that.


Amy Adler  55:39  

Yeah. Great. So So, two things, first of all, I mean, I don't know in particular with those works, but I know that that what restoration means is hotly debated. I mean, I think it's at the heart of why there's not certainty about the Salvador Monday the the Leonardo painting that was the, you know, the $500 million painting, whatever. Some people wonder if the restore went too far thinking that was a Leonardo and kind of, you know, she knew Leonardo so well, was she kind of taking it a little bit too far and making it look like it? What was it his work? Or what or did she make it look to be his work? And it wasn't? But I will so so these questions are, you know, constantly debated with restoration and, and the ethics of registration ship, I will just say, you know, talking about those those old sculptures, I think we can see the fiction of authenticity, how fictitious it is, we think Greek and Roman sculptures are white, of course, they're white. That's the color of antiquity to us. But that's just a fiction because the paint has been stripped away. And we I haven't seen the show yet. But I'm sure when I'll walk in, I'll have the reaction of like, what this is wrong. You know, this is this is not authentic. And it just, I think shows again, that instability of the of the concept.


Winnie Wong  56:57  

Can I just plug a book on conservation? This is Fernando Dominguez Rubio, he wrote a book called still life ecologies of the modern imagination at the art museum. It's a study of momos conservation department. And he explores how a conservator decides which drip from anabolic painting is an intentional drip and which is, which is a drop of coffee. That's wonderful.


Barton Beebe  57:28  

Well, we'll have to conclude there that there's a passage in Amy's paper where you see you refer to a case involving Warhol as itself or halls last word, like the litigation was supposed to miss work. And I'd like to think that we're aware of a little bit parts of aesthetic tradition even in this discussion. We're carrying on the same questions that are unanswerable but important to keep asking. So thanks to Amy and Winnie for this discussion.


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