Getting Real: Cultural, Aesthetic and Legal Perspectives on the Meaning on Authenticity of Art Works

Document Type


Publication Date

January 2012


Authenticity seems to be the value of the moment, rolling off the tongues of politicians, celebrities, Web gurus, college admissions advisers, reality television stars.” While this comment was written in relation to the attempts of media personalities, celebrities and politicians to present an “authentic” image of themselves to the world, authenticity has been valued in the art world for far longer than in the media world. And, while there are many aspects to how an individual presents his or her “authentic” self, so there are many ways of understanding what authenticity means in the art world. The art market is rife with problems of authenticity, ranging from outright, deliberate forgeries to discoveries concerning authenticity made years after a sale and honest uncertainty about proper attribution. While the consequences and detectability of these different types of inauthenticity vary, they constitute serious impediments to the proper functioning of the art market. More importantly, however, they all contribute to distortion and corruption of the historical, art historical and cultural record of our past.