The Scrouge of Russian Avant-garde Fakes

Fascinating article by Konstantin Akinsha published in the International Foundation for Art Research (IFAR) Journal, Vol. 21, nos. 3&4 this year gives a deep insight into the history of Russian avant grade art fakes.

“In September 2020, despite the raging pandemic, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne opened (virtually) the exhibition “Russian Avant-Garde at the Museum Ludwig: Original and Fake. Questions, Research, Explanations” (FIG. 1).1 The show, and a related symposium from November 5–7, 2020, was the outcome of a meticulous examination of the Russian avantgarde collection of one hundred paintings amassed by Peter and Irene Ludwig, one of the largest collections of Russian art in Western Europe. At that point, conservators and technical experts — including PetraMandt, Maria Kokkori, and Jilleen Nadolny — had studied forty-nine of the paintings, using a variety of analytical techniques. Twenty-two proved to be forgeries. The Ludwig Museum’s decision to make the results of the research public in its own galleries went against traditional museum practice. Curators of important European museums usually prefer to keep silent about the skeletons in their closets, to protect morale and to avoid possible legal problems, among other reasons.

The Cologne show was based in part on the desire to break through that silence. Scandals connected to Russian avant-garde fakes aren’t new to the art market. Galleries have come and gone that showed nothing but fakes. But in the last decade, something more insidious has been happening: the scandals have often involved museums. The organizers of the Cologne exhibition decided that bringing the problem into the open was long past due.” — Konstantin Akinsha

Read the full article here: