DOCHOUSE PICKS: MASTER ART FORGERS
On 31st March, Jean-Luc Leon’s documentary A Genuine Forger opens at DocHouse. This entertaining film tells the story of master-forger Guy Ribes, famous for duping the art world for 30 years. His imitation Picassos, Matisses and Chagalls were authenticated by art experts, sold for millions, and remain on the walls of many galleries and museums. Here, for the first time, Ribes reveals how he did it.
To celebrate the film’s release at DocHouse, here’s a recommendation of five other documentaries that together capture the art of art forgery.
F FOR FAKE (1973)
Dir. Orson Welles
The original forgery documentary, Orson Welles’s final film F for Fake is an essayistic exploration into the lives of two infamous fakers: painter Elmyr de Hory and writer Clifford Irving. Sitting somewhere between documentary and fiction, Welles’s film examines the fundamental elements of fraud and those who commit it, often at the expense of others.
EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP (2010)
Dir. Thierry Guetta
Exit Through the Gift Shop chronicles how an eccentric French shop-keeper and amateur filmmaker, Thierry Guetta, attempted to locate and befriend the elusive street artist Banksy. Turning the camera back on its owner, Banksy’s film becomes a document of the creation of Guetta’s artistic myth: Mr Brainwash.
Watch the trailer HERE
TIM'S VERMEER (2013)
Directed by Teller (of ‘Penn & Teller’ fame’), Tim’s Vermeer takes inventor Tim Jenison as its subject, who obsessively seeks to understand the painting techniques used by Dutch Master Johannes Vermeer. The resulting documentary chronicles his painstaking, almost scientific, recreation of Vermeer’s masterpiece The Music Lesson.
ART AND CRAFT (2014)
Dir. Sam Cullman & Jennifer Grausman & Mark Becker
Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman and Mark Becker’s documentary is a portrait of master art forger Mark A. Landis. Known as one of the most prolific art forgers in US history, the film considers why Landis became an art forger, how he finally got caught some 30 years on and what his forging legacy means for the art world.
BELTRACCHI: THE ART OF FORGERY (2014)
Dir. Arne Birkenstock
From director Arne Birkenstock, this documentary recounts the life and times of Wolfgang Beltracchi, who tricked the international art world for nearly 40 years by forging and selling paintings of early 20th-century masters. Responsible for the biggest art forgery scandal in post-war Germany, the film considers Beltracchi’s forgery methods, his time in prison and what it’s like to paint under his own name.