Art Fakes and Forgeries Essay

Words: 1283
Pages: 6

Chris Wiley
English 1000
13 September 2010

Fakes and Forgeries
Lessing v. Dutton

The two essays, “What is Wrong with a Forgery,” by Alfred Lessing and “Artistic Crimes,” by Denis Dutton, explore the different reasons that they give negative connotation to the concept of an artistic forgery. Each author concludes that a forgery is indeed wrongful, however their reasons for this conclusion differ in several distinct ways. This essay will summarize both authors’ main points and compare and contrast the fundamental differences of their arguments. Lessing begins “What is Wrong with a Forgery” by establishing that forgeries are not void of aesthetic value. In fact, he states that a clear distinction must be made between the
…show more content…
Lessing concludes with the assertion that since van Meegeren’s painting is aesthetically beautiful it is actually shows what a great artist Vermeer was. It is a testament to the original genius of Vermeer’s style and technique brought about in the 17th century. In Dutton’s essay, “Artistic Crimes” he, like Lessing, agrees that the intrinsic aesthetic properties of a work of art are not changed by the revelation that the piece is actually a forgery. Dutton’s stance on the issue of why a forgery is wrong differs most from Lessing’s in that he argues that there can be no distinction between creative and performing art. In Dutton’s opinion, every work of art involves some element of performance. The difference is whether we perceive the moment of performance or if we only see the end product of the performance. Regardless, this performance must be considered in appreciating a work of art. A performance he says represents a sense of accomplishment or achievement. Dutton states, “As performances, works of art represent the ways in which artists solve problems, overcome obstacles, make do with available materials.” This is an aspect of a piece that cannot be ignored when fully appreciating its artistic value. Dutton’s main problem with forgery then is not the lack of originality that Lessing speaks of, but that a forgery misrepresents achievement. In the van Meegeren case, for example,