Thursday, April 9, 2015


Among the more than 55 works on display, "Intent to Deceive" features original works by renowned artists such as Charles Courtney Curran, Honoré Daumier, Philip de László, Henri Matisse, Amedeo Modigliani, Pablo Picasso, Paul Signac, and Maurice de Vlaminck, interspersed with fakes and forgeries painted in the styles of these masters. The exhibition presents some of the most infamous scandals in the art world and allows viewers to test their perceptions of authenticity. Curated by Colette Loll, an art fraud expert, and organized for tour by International Arts & Artists, Washington, D.C., "Intent to Deceive" will be on view from Feb. 14 through May 10, 2015.

Unable to make a career based on the acceptability of their own artistic style, the five forgers profiled in "Intent to Deceive"-Han van Meegeren, Elmyr de Hory, Eric Hebborn, John Myatt, and Mark Landis-found fakery, the exact duplication of an original work of art, and forgery, the creation and selling of a work of art which is falsely credited to another, to be their surest avenue to recognition and commercial success. Showcasing their personal effects and the materials and techniques each used to create fraudulent works, the exhibition illuminates how each forger managed to fool the experts until they were ultimately exposed. The exhibition brings to light these forgers' frustrated artistic ambitions, chaotic personal lives and contempt for the art world. It also examines how advances in technology are aiding art professionals in ascertaining authenticity.

Han van Meegeren (Dutch, 1906-1976)
Han van Meegeren was the first of the forgers romanticized in 20th-century media for his ability to fool the "infallible" art experts. Like others who followed, van Meegeren turned to forgery out of frustration with his own stalled artistic career and the demands of an expensive lifestyle. He began to produce forgeries of 17th-century Dutch masters in the 1920s, but they were not credible enough to earn him significant wealth. However, by the mid-1930s, van Meegeren developed a technique to simulate the look and feel of centuries-old dried oil paint by mixing an early form of plastic into his pigments.

Elmyr de Hory (Hungarian, 1906-1976)
After several failed attempts to ignite his own career, Elmyr de Hory focused on his own talent as a forger. De Hory built a façade of being a dispossessed Hungarian aristocrat in the United States, selling off artworks from his collection-which were later revealed to be authentic turn-of-the-century society portraits in which de Hory had over-painted the faces, hands and signature.

Eric Hebborn (British, 1934-1996)
Eric Hebborn's training at the Royal Academy of Arts-Britain's most prestigious art school-as well as his award of the Rome Prize, could have heralded an illustrious artistic and academic career. Instead, his exquisite drawing skills were rejected by the mid-20th-century art world, making Hebborn profoundly contemptuous of art dealers and experts. His training as a painting restorer taught him to repair damaged works, but also to enhance them and, at times, simply forge them. When he realized how easily the experts were fooled, his contempt for them increased. Ultimately, he came to justify his forgeries as ethical if he sold them to experts and dealers who should be able to discern the authentic from the fake.  

John Myatt (British, b. 1945)
John Myatt's life demonstrates how one wrong step, and one wrong partner, can turn a struggling artist into a criminal art forger. Myatt began his artistic career with promise. He was awarded a scholarship to open his own art studio and supported himself by selling and teaching art for several years, but his traditional, pastoral style did not create enough interest to allow him to earn a proper living. To provide for his children, he devised a plan to sell "genuine fakes" through an advertisement in a local paper. Con man John Drewe saw the ad and approached Myatt. The Myatt-Drew partnership created one of the most damaging art hoaxes of the 20th century, with Myatt forging more than 200 modernist paintings, and Drewe most likely corrupting the art historical record for generations to come by falsifying provenance documentation.

Mark Landis (American, b. 1955)
Mark Landis may be the most famous art counterfeiter who never committed a crime. He does not fit the standard profile of charlatan working for material gain or embittered artist seeking to punish a world that failed to appreciate him. For the past 30 years, Landis has approached dozens of museums and university galleries in multiple states claiming to be a wealthy philanthropist with a collection he wished to donate in honor of his deceased parents. He has gone to odd lengths to perpetuate this fantasy to give away his fakes, not only falsifying documents and using aliases, but also dressing in costume.

The exhibition features Mark Landis' priest coat and collar he used as one of his many aliases, along with six works he created and donated to the Oklahoma City Museum of Art. A staff member at the Museum noticed a pattern of odd donations and suspected the same person, under a series of aliases, was making them. Placed under a microscope, Landis' painting revealed the presence of pixels, a telltale sign it had been painted over a digital image. Landis later admitted his technique was to download a digital image of the painting, glue it to a board, distress it with sandpaper and paint over the top.

The last gallery of the exhibition will be an interactive space where visitors have a chance to pick out authentic works of art hung beside fakes and forgeries. Visitors can also try their own hand at creating a copy of a drawing by French artist Honore Daumier.

This exhibition is funded in part by the Oklahoma Humanities Council (OHC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the exhibition do not necessarily represent those of OHC or NEH.

Upcoming Events

Making Memories
A special program for Alzheimer's and dementia patients and their loved ones
Monday, April 13, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. & 2-3:30 p.m.

Art After 5: Opera Performance
Arias from the opera
Ascription, composed by Eric Lindsay
Thursday, May 7, 7 p.m.

Drop-in Drawing
Saturday, May 2, 2-4 p.m.

Free Family Day: Art Investigations
Sunday, May 3, 2015, 12-5 p.m.

From the press release

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