the man his art On the experts Fakes & Forgeries On the market
from Born to Venice Drawings Past experts Myth and reality on his fakes The market
Arrival to Paris Sculpture Catalogues done in the past Famous forgers trust in the market?
Becoming an artist Painting Actual /Living experts known and undoubted fakes Auctions & Modigliani
on the path All the attributed works Catalogues of actual experts how to detect a fake Galleries & Museums
The artist Exhibitions during his lifetime How should an expertise must be done what to do with forgeries and forgers Famous collectors fromt the past to actual times
The myth Exhibitions until today News on the experts Art Historians, a trustable source? News on the market
Selected bibliography on him News on his art References  and Bibliography on the experts references on fakes & forgeries references & links on the market


I am not going to enter in drawings or sculpture I will just mention them by side, this area is almost fully devoted to paintings.

Myths on his work:

Is an urban tale that he is the most faked artist...
Some "experts" say that for each good one there are 3 bad ones, that is not the reality, is just a gossip (said by Orson Welles in the "F" script to create scandal) all the art Historians repeat it as common knowledge without even questioning it...
( I guess if they also think martians are invading us?)

In Fact they all know that is just a question of using science to see clear what is gold and what is copper...

Do you think they want the world to have the truth?? No...

Let me explain it with data:

  1. He died at the beginning of getting attention (very low attention to be true).

  2. Ceroni Catalogued 337 paintings, Lanthemann 420 paintings, Patani's shrank it to 349.
    Parisot, depends on the moment and for Restellini we still waiting...

  3. We are talking of 20 years of production with large periods devoted to sculpture and blank time, we have more or less (Apr. 13-15 years of production) a simple scheme:


Paintings:
4 WEEKS A MONTH.
A PAINTING PER WEEK X 12 MONTHS= 48 PAINTING PER YEAR.
48 PAINTING PER YEAR X 15 YEARS: 720 paintings???

Ok that may be ambitious, he was probably affected by lack of materials, travels, money, ups and down in his life and the times he lived, so let´s reduce it by 1/3rd: 480 paintings, not bad for a drunken/stoned man...

(There are mentions of his contemporaries that he started a painting and end it in the same day, even 2 one day so just imagine...)


Anyway, the question is not to know how many paintings he did, is to know if it was profitable to fake him and since when:

Was it profitable to fake Modigliani the years post his death?

The reality is NO
To fake him only became a good business from 1965-1970 up today.

This can be much better understood if we compare his prices across time:



IN MASTER WORKS:

title
year
price sold USD
artist
Les Iris
1934-35
90.000
( $1,494,402 today)
Van gogh
Environs de Aix
1934-35
30.000
( $498,134 today)
Cezanne
Mme. Thurneysen
1934-35
25.000
( $415,111 today)
Renoir
Le Gourmand
1934-35
20.000
( $332,089 today)
Picasso
Grand Nu Couche
1934-35
15.000
( $249,067 today)
Modigliani
IN MEDIUM WORKS:
title
year
price sold USD
artist
Girl
1939-43
12.000
( $187,867 today)
Renoir
Cubist composition
1944
11.000
( $138,561 today)
Picasso
Le guerindon
1943
6.500
( $101,761 today)
Braque
Woman
1939-43
6.500
( $101,761 today)
Matisse
La robe Noir
1943
5.100
( $79,843 today)
Modigliani
Jeunne Fille
1939-43
4.500
($70,450 today)
Modigliani
IN DRAWINGS:
title
year
price USD
artist
danseurs verte
1948
28.000
( $262,265 today)
Degas
Nymph and satyr
1947
1.800
( $18,349 today)
Picasso
Young god
1948
1.450
( $13,581 today)
Picasso
Le repos
1947
950
( $9,684 today)
Matisse
Les flongeurs
1948
700
( $6,556 today)
Leger
Greek head
1947
350
( $3,568 today)
Modigliani
 
Source Smithsonian Ins. Archives of American Art, Frick library, INHA & others.

If we do a quick analysis, Modigliani's work was not less expensive than his similar alive (and they were still producing).

let's say it was much cheaper than Picasso´s (and the spaniard was alive and producing) and half the price of a Leger.

To fake a Matisse, Picasso, Leger or even a Gris was much more profitable.


...................................................................................................................................................................................................................


To get an idea of the real consideration that Modigliani had as an artist until the end of the 50's, here is a quote from a very respected modern art critic of that time:


"Modigliani had an intense but narrow sensibility, his music is all on one string"

...he had a characteristically Italian gift for drawing beautifully with ease : and I think he had not much else...

...I feel sure that those who would place him amongst the masters of the movement of Matisse, Picasso, Derain, Bonnard, and Friesz are in a big mistake ;
with all his charm and originality, he was too thoughtless and superficial to achieve greatly...

...His pictures, delightful and surprising at first sight, are apt to grow stale and, in the end, some of them, unbearably thin. A minor artist, surely...



Clive Bell in: SINCE CEZANNE. LONDON - CHATTO AND WINDUS, 1922, page 6-7.
...................................................................................................................................................................................................................


so in clear text:


  1. The fakes became famous post 70´s when there was a real demand for drawings & medium paintings.

    (At that years the master ones were already in high profile collectors or museums worldwide.)

  2. Orson Welles, can be blamed for a good part of the myth.
    (yes it's silly but true, So I ask myself: Art hist. think the martians are among us also???).


  3. De Hory the famous faker was a regular painter, not an exceptional one.
    (he was much better at drawings, another myth says he did half of Matisse's oeuvre).
    His works in Modigliani can be easily detected, he does not respect all his positions and do not maintain his aurean perception.

  4. The drawings were easy to fake, but it is not a bigger problem than the one we can find in any other similar artist (like picasso for instance).

  5. The fakes & Modigliani got fame because he was never protected by none, and the art historians devoted to him obtained profit from spreading the myth ( any interview made to Parisot or Restellini they all mention them again and again...)

  6. The time of production in Modigliani´s work give us some ultra worth clues:

    - He used pre industrial pigments
    (Pre Industrial: Not handmade ones, but pre industrial, done in lower scale by suppliers for artists with low technology and easy access chemicals, made mainly but not only by the same dealer in Paris)

    - He never used titanium white (used post 1920-22)
    see link>>
    (No matter what Parisot say, Titanium white was not in mass production during Modigliani's time and the ones that were produced are only in America and Germany as a test, also it was much more expensive than the normal white used at that time made with lead or zinc that was less extended)

    - All his paintings have white made from zinc or lead
    see link>>
    (Lead and Zinc whites were available at the time. yes they are a health risk, but nobody knew it at that time)

    - He used pre industrial supports
    (Pre Industrial: Not handmade ones, but pre industrial, done in lower scale by suppliers for artists with low technology, made by the same dealers in Paris)

    - He used pre industrial varnishes

    (Pre Industrial: Not handmade ones, but pre industrial, done in lower scale by suppliers for artists with low technology and easy access chemicals, made mainly but not only by the same dealer in Paris)

    So with this in mind a very simple x ray will tell you if the work is not by him.


    and above all, he was good as gold...


...................................................................................................................................................................................................................

Pigments in painting are similar to a DNA test

So no matter how good the faker was, if it does not present the correct pigments and a coincident X-Ray it is not...

And until 1990-94 the use of forensic methods to unveil the reality within, was not even known.
(So d' Hory and all his crowd can be really easy to discard, they used commercial oil pigments made in total industrial origin)

That simple, quite clean method every art historian (playing salomon's choice) should apply (instead of hiding it) will clear every possible doubt on his paintings.

Just a simple X-ray would clear the 46% of the doubts, the chemical pigments clear other 46 % and the provenance the 6%, and also because I do not want them to be unemployed let´s give the expert the last 2% ( they should work to recover the % they have lost, until now it was 99%).


So when you read that an auction house or a museum does not want to accept a work if it has been correct in the pigments, x ray, mediums, ask why they did that?
(afraid of?, part of?)

If the auction house, museums and collectors use science Modigliani would have no fakes. (unless they try to hide something...)

...................................................................................................................................................................................................................

So then a Lab can do much more than 100 connoisseurs...

1- Myths on his fakes......................... click here>>
2- Famous ones................................. click here>>
3- How to do an expertise.................. click here >>