Photo: Jennifer Dessinger
Jonathon Keats is an artist and experimental philosopher. In his new book, Forged, he makes the case for why forgers are the greatest artists of our age. Jonathon argues that the impact of a well perpetrated forgery sends shockwaves well beyond the art world, and forces all of us to question our ideas about authenticity, authority and belief. This kind of wide-ranging impact, he says, is something most legitimate artwork fails to achieve.
Forged also looks at the history of art forgery, and tells the stories of six incredible and ambitious forgers who conned art experts, Nazi officials and entire nations into believing in their fake wares. One of the most impressive, Han van Meegren, invented an entire series of paintings by the Dutch master Vermeer during WWII. The counterfeit Vermeers became so beloved by the Dutch, that when van Meegren confessed to faking the paintings, no one believed him.
Jonathon Keats is also an artist in his own right, and, like the work of the forger, his projects ask us to question firmly held beliefs about the world around us. In the past, Jonathon has tried to copyright his own brain, made pornography for plants, and tried to genetically engineer God. For his newest work, launching this spring in Berlin, Jonathon is getting into the cloning business. His project is called the Epigenetic Cloning Agency, and he will be cloning celebrities, like President Obama and Jesus Christ, in the gallery. The Epigenetic Cloning Agency opens in Berlin at Team Titanic Art Space on May 31st.
Last week I spoke with Jonathon about his new book, his cloning project, and his philosophy of art making.
A forged Vermeer, The Disciples at Emmaus, by Han van Meegeren
Obama epigenetic cloning area from the Epigenetic Cloning Agency in New York
Jonathon Keats at the Epigenetic Cloning AgencyPlaylist
From the independent film 'Ham on Rye'—get ready to rock. | read