I recently purchased a work of art on eBay by a well-known American artist. It was extremely inexpensive, which likely means that the drawing is a total fake. Yet the reviews of this particular seller on eBay were nearly 100% positive. And the work, now that I’ve had a chance to inspect it under harsh light, looks 100% real.
If there’s anything wrong with it, it’s the crease across the center because the drawing was sent in a cheap padded envelope with cardboard and exposed tape.
In the land of the simulacrum, fake profiles, five stars, Photoshop love and free downloads, it’s pretty hard to figure out what is and is not real. We all know that something like Schiller’s Liquor Bar in New York, with its haute European feel and hints of intimacy, is as fake as the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. But the décor and the longing it creates for customers like me are real.
The true picture of the past flits by. The past can be seized only as an image which flashes up at the instant when it can be recognized and is never seen again.
The thing is, I love this little drawing. Fake or not, it’s mine. And it reminds me of everything I appreciate about the artist–the attention to detail, the wrought linework, the mastery over the materials, and the framing of the subject on the page. It’s gorgeous.
Do I pursue the truth of this piece of art? Not yet. I’m better off in the pleasure dome.