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I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the…
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I Was Vermeer: The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century's Greatest… (2006)

by Frank Wynne

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 5 of 5
Antes de contar a história de van Mergeerer, Wynne enumera os estereótipos sobre falsário. Contraditoriamente, ele cai nesses estereótipos logo em seguida. ( )
  JuliaBoechat | Mar 30, 2013 |
Having already read Edward Dolnick's account of the Dutch WWII Vermeer forger Han van Meegeren called The Forger's Spell, I was pleasantly surprised to note that the two books complement each other well. Wynne's book is filled with famous one-liners such as "Of the 2,500 authentic works painted by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, 7,800 are in American collections alone". Museums and art collections have every interest not to reveal that their precious items are not originals. Thus, the longer the pedigree of a forgery the higher the chance it is accepted into the canon. The recent documentary about the authenticity of the newly discovered Leonardo da Vinci La Bella Principessa pointedly shows how much of such a decision rests in convincing a small number of insiders, turning a 22,000 USD painting by a German 19th century artist into a 100,000,000 USD masterwork (or not).

One important finding is that the forgery has to match current taste. Thus, today, van Meegeren's works look hopelessly old-fashioned and completely unlike those of Vermeer. In his time, however, they were what the buyers expected and craved for (at least until van Meegeren got lazy). A quick fun read. ( )
  jcbrunner | Jan 31, 2013 |
I made the happy mistake of following someone's link to BookCloseOuts.com on Black Friday in November and this was among the assortment of nine vaguely-intriguing books I picked up for $20. Having literally judged this book by its cover in deciding whether to buy it, I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I got was an examination of the life and work (legitimate and not-so-legitimate) of Han van Meegeren, the Dutch artist best known for having successfully forged and sold at least eight paintings attributed to Vermeer and other 17th century painters, only confessing once accused of treason for having sold a "national treasure" to Nazi commander and art collector Hermann Goring. The author does his best to provide some insight into van Meegeren's motivations, portraying him as a classical painter embittered and disillusioned with the art world post-Picasso and out for vengeance, but also as an almost compulsive liar, reveling in his deception and unable to stop "committing masterpieces" once he'd begun - shockingly easy to do, according to the author, who comments extensively on the subjectivity of art criticism and difficulty of establishing authenticity. I was most interested in the techniques van Meegeren had invented to create 300-year-old paintings in the 20th century, and Wynne spends a satisfying amount of time going into the issues the forger faced and how he managed to innovate around those problems.

Despite having read [The Art Forger's Handbook] a few years ago, I had this idea that art forgery was similar to currency forgery, in that art forgers create identical copies of masterworks - this isn't true, for the most part. Art forgers mimic the style and themes of masters, yes, but they create brand new works to be "discovered" and added to an artist's catalog. And if they do it well enough, according to Wynne and evidenced by the experience of Han van Meegeren, the forgery might hang on a museum wall as genuine forever ( )
4 vote okrysmastree | Jan 7, 2011 |
@read
  sixbucksamonkey | Jun 16, 2008 |
Fascinating biography of Han Van Meegran, who fooled the best of art critics -- his "greatest achievement" was casting doubt. ( )
  LaurieLH | Oct 30, 2007 |
Showing 5 of 5
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Frank Wynneprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
van Meergeren, HanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
La vie étant ce qu'elle est, on rêve de vengeance

Paul Gauguin

("Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge", translation from Babylon.com)
Dedication
For my mother, for her love and her unfailing, often bemused, support.

To the memory of Ric Shepheard: filmmaker, fraudster, friend, for his brilliance and inspiration.
First words
I am sitting in Het Molenpad, one of the oldest and most gezellig* of Amsterdam's 'brown cafés'.

*The great untranslatable Dutch concept which encompasses welcoming, cosy, friendly and good fun.
Quotations
Forgery is a booming industry -- though not perhaps one a career-guidance counsellor will recommend to your gifted child.  (p.1)
One might be forgiven for thinking that the single defining gift of the expert is hubris.  (p.148)
The former Reichsmarschall [Goering] learned that Han van Meegeren had forged his treasured 'Vermeer' while a prisoner in Nuremberg.

According to a contemporary account: 'he looked as if for the first time he had discovered that there was evil in the world.' (p.209)
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
In 1945, a small-time Dutch art dealer was arrested for selling a priceless national treasure--a painting by Vermeer--to the Nazi commander Hermann Goering. The charge was treason; the only possible sentence, death. And yet Han van Meeren languished in his dank prison cell, incaple of uttering the four simple words that would set him free: "I am a forger."

I Was Vermeer is the outrageous true story of one of the greatest art forgers of all time. From his early childhood, Han had dreamed of being an artist, but in the electrifying world of modern art, critics ridiculed his art as hopelessly old-fashioned. Furious and embittered, he turned to forgery--and became a secret superstar of the art world. In his heyday as a forger, he earned the euqivalent of fifty million dollars and the acclaim of the world's press, and saw his paintings hung alongside those of Rembrandt and Vermeer. The acceptance of his work was so complete that when he finally confessed, no one believed him--until, in a huge media event, the courts staged the public painting of what would be van Meergeren's last "Vermeer." [from the jacket]
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"He was a second-rate artist with an out-of-date style and a plan to have his paintings hung in the world's finest galleries - but Han van Meegeren's forgeries would nearly cost him his life." "In 1945, a small-time Dutch art dealer was arrested for selling a priceless national treasure - a painting by Vermeer - to Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring. The charge was treason, the only possible sentence death. And yet Han van Meegeren languished in his dank prison cell, incapable of uttering the four simple worlds that would set him free: 'I am a forger.'" "I was Vermeer is the astonishing, bizarre story of a man out of time. From his early childhood, Han dreamed of being an artist, but in the scandalous world of modern art he found his work ridiculed by art critics as hopelessly old-fashioned. Furious and frustrated, he hatched a plan to revenge himself on his detractors. It was a dazzling, skilful swindle which, in less than a decade, earned him the equivalent of fifty million dollars and the acclaim of the very critics who had mocked him; and saw his paintings hanging next to those of Rembrandt and Vermeer." "As an artist, Han was a failure: as a forger, he was unstoppable. I was Vermeer is the unbelievable, irresistible true story of the greatest forger of all time, a riveting account of greed, hubris, excess, treason and fine art."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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