Today, standing in situ or displayed in museums, are several classical and post-classical copies of works of art. In contrast, fakes are usually locked away in museum stores. This dichotomy sparks a reflection on the authenticity attached to fakes and to copies of classical artworks. Building upon Denis Dutton’s work and drawing on a series of examples, this article contends that, although neither fakes nor copies are (the) original, copies are ‘nominally authentic’ regarding their authorship, origin, findspot, and/or provenance, whereas fakes are not. Also, copies are ‘expressively authentic’ in so far as they honestly fulfil the function for which they were created, are situated in the context of the original, or somehow speak of continuity with artistic and art historical traditions. On the contrary, once spotted, fakes lose their purpose and their intended audience, proving expressively inauthentic. Therefore, what fakes and copies have in common is their non-originality, explored here as both creativity and exemplarity or fecundity, that is, the capacity to originate an artistic or figurative tradition. The article concludes by asking what we are to do with fakes and contends that, as historical documents, they warrant exhibition since they can contribute to unlocking the multiple narratives surrounding originals.

Exploring Authenticity Through Classical Art: Originals, Fakes and Copies

Elisa Bernard
2021

Abstract

Today, standing in situ or displayed in museums, are several classical and post-classical copies of works of art. In contrast, fakes are usually locked away in museum stores. This dichotomy sparks a reflection on the authenticity attached to fakes and to copies of classical artworks. Building upon Denis Dutton’s work and drawing on a series of examples, this article contends that, although neither fakes nor copies are (the) original, copies are ‘nominally authentic’ regarding their authorship, origin, findspot, and/or provenance, whereas fakes are not. Also, copies are ‘expressively authentic’ in so far as they honestly fulfil the function for which they were created, are situated in the context of the original, or somehow speak of continuity with artistic and art historical traditions. On the contrary, once spotted, fakes lose their purpose and their intended audience, proving expressively inauthentic. Therefore, what fakes and copies have in common is their non-originality, explored here as both creativity and exemplarity or fecundity, that is, the capacity to originate an artistic or figurative tradition. The article concludes by asking what we are to do with fakes and contends that, as historical documents, they warrant exhibition since they can contribute to unlocking the multiple narratives surrounding originals.
Archaeology, aura, authenticity, classical art, copy, fake, museums, originality
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11771/21126
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