New exhibition at Carlos Museum unmasks 'great fakes' of antiquity
A new exhibit at the Carlos Museum will explore the history of forgeries
of antiquities. "Discovery and Deceit: Archaeology and the Forger's
Craft," which runs Feb. 8 through May 18, will feature more than 80
works of genuine and forged sculpture, reliefs, plaques and jewelry, primarily
representing ancient Near Eastern and Mediterranean cultures.
The exhibition's organizer, Robert Cohon, curator of ancient art at The
Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo., where the exhibit was first mounted,
has explored the many different methods available for scholars to determine
whether a work of art is authentic or forged.
Some of the methods shown in "Discovery and Deceit" are standard
art historical procedures that focus on style, connoisseurship and iconography.
Other methods of authentication are more scientific and include dating by
thermoluminescence and carbon-14; examining the manufacturing techniques
and the chemical composition of materials; and looking for the presence
of natural aging processes, as opposed to their absence or simulation.
Gay Robins, faculty curator of ancient Egyptian art, will serve as the onsite
curator of the Carlos Museum exhibition. With the assistance of the museum's
other curators, Robins will display objects from the museum's collection
that have had their authenticity questioned. She is also working with the
museum's Office of Educational Programs to develop a symposium that will
explore a number of issues underlying the authentication of ancient Egyptian
"Discovery and Deceit" has been designed to allow visitors to
experience first handsome of the scientific methods used to date artwork.
For example, one example shows the difference that results when fake and
genuine objects are exposed to ultraviolet light.
Sometimes, however, scientific evidence is in conflict with art historical
opinion. The presentation includes several objects on which a final decision
has not yet been reached. In addition to these problematic works are examples
of objects that have been reworked either in antiquity or in recent times
to increase their financial value.
Robert Cohon and Kate Garland, object conservators at The Nelson-Atkins
Museum, will present a lecture on Feb. 12 at 7:30 p.m. titled "Fakes,
Frauds and Scholars." The lecture is free and will be held in the Museum
Return to February 3, 1997 Contents Page