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False Impressions
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The former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art here discloses shocking details of major art forgeries and the intricate chicanery of con artists who have duped the world's most prestigious art institutions, art experts, and collectors. Hoving (Making the Mummies Dance, LJ 11/1/92) traces the earliest art deceptions from the time of the Phoenicians, through ancient Roman forgeries of Greek artifacts and the innumerable crucifixion relics of the Middle Ages, to the phony sculpture, paintings, documents, coins, ivories, and gems created now largely for profit. Besides greed as the prime motivation, Hoving also tells wonderful tales of revenge by disgruntled employees aimed at the elitist, arrogant personalities that pervade the art world. As a "fakebuster," Hoving uses his sense of connoisseurship and gut reaction to distinguish originals, which he believes convey a lofty humanity that fakes lack. Museum lovers will find it disconcerting to learn that still undetected frauds are prominently on view. Recommended for general and museum collections.‘Joan Levin, MLS, Chicago, Ill.

Take care if you're planning to buy a Renoir landscape or a Manet‘there are art fakers who can convincingly simulate the former in two hours, the latter in three, according to Hoving in this wry guide to the world of art forgeries. Hoving (Making the Mummies Dance), former director of New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art, devotes the first several chapters to a chronological history of art faking; some readers may find this section too detailed and anecdotal. The livelier part of the book involves Hoving's reminiscences about his experiences as a student at Princeton, his apprenticeship at the Met and his sleuthing to detect art fakes. He covers such intriguing topics here as forgers who have "tricked them all," what makes an ideal fake-buster and the "sin" of labeling genuine artifacts as fakes. Noting that art forgery is as old as art, the author warns that "the art world we are living in today is a new, highly active, unprincipled one of art fakery," which he attributes to "raw commercialism" and the "get-rich quick attitude of the times." But Hoving, who enjoys showing off, leads us to believe that with him on the case, no fraud is safe. (May)

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