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On the Hunt | Tracking Fakes & Forgeries in Modern Painting


Art Gallery of Alberta
2 Sir Winston Churchill Square T5J 2C1 Edmonton Canada
In popular culture and even in the press, few criminals are portrayed as sympathetically as the art forger. More often than not, the forger is a wily anti-hero, using his or her incredible talents to fool the unsuspecting elites of the art world. However, forgeries and fakes don’t just affect collectors when they throw a dangerous and destabilizing wrench in the art market. Fakes and forgeries can undermine public museum holdings and warp our understanding of artists and their work.

Taking a cue from The Unvarnished Truth: Exploring the Material History of Paintings, this talk will focus on the techniques used to identify fakes and forgeries from material analysis and connoisseurship to archival sleuthing. We will examine several fascinating cases involving Canadian artists and Van Gogh, whose work can be seen in The Unvarnished Truth.

Sarah Parsons

Sarah Parsons is Associate Professor of Art History in the Department of Visual Arts and Art History at York University, where she teaches courses in art crime, modern art, and the history and theory of photography. She has conducted Nazi era provenance research for the Art Gallery of Ontario and served as the lead art research consultant for the legal team of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in its legal battle with the Beaverbrook Foundation. Her current book project is Feeling Exposed: the Interconnected Modern Histories of Privacy and Photography.