Who painted this painting 2

Wolfgang Beltracchi: "Believing in art is like going to church"


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TIME CAMPUS: In your book Self portrait describe yourself as a psychedelic rabbit that hobbled across Europe for ten years. Did you have a favorite drug?

Beltracchi: No, I took everything that was there. Friends brought LSD with them from California, which was the fashion drug back then. Once I took something called Sunshine Explosion. That was awesome. A 78 hour trip. Between 1968 and 1980 I miss some memories. I can't recommend anyone more today.

TIME CAMPUS: The mirror called you a "counterfeiter of the century". According to your own account, you have painted around 300 pictures in the style of great painters in 25 years. Her wife delivered the works to auction houses, which then auctioned them off. How do you actually become an art forger? Do you plan a career like that?

Beltracchi: No. In the beginning I painted pictures in the style of other artists and didn't sign them. It was a very complicated process. If you simply copy a picture and want to offer it to an expert, he or she will say: "It already exists!" That's why I only painted pictures that could have existed. Pictures that did not appear in the artist catalog. Paintings whose titles may have been mentioned in a painter's biography, but which no one who is still alive today has ever seen. I also had to know the scientific research methods that experts use to estimate the age of paintings. It took me about ten years to really learn my job and to paint pictures that cannot be recognized as fakes.

TIME CAMPUS: What happened next?

Beltracchi: I painted one of my first pictures by the expressionist Heinrich Campendonk in 1985. In New York, the painting sold for $ 25,000. In June 2009 I saw it at the Art Basel art fair for over two million euros. The Sprengel Museum in Hanover bought it a year later. The director was sure that it was an original. Experts said that such an "erotic aura" cannot be faked. They couldn't imagine that I painted that in the eighties.

TIME CAMPUS: How do you manage to paint a Monet or Picasso?

Beltracchi: In order to create a painting in a painter's artistic handwriting, one has to take in the artist. It can take months. I did a lot of research, looked at places where they lived, houses where they painted. I've read their letters and diaries. And even tried to eat what the artists ate back then. Around 1900 it was easier to cook; Monet, for example, had vegetables from the garden and meat from the neighborhood. I also asked myself what the political situation was like, like the family one. You can't travel through time without knowing as much as possible. At some point I went into my studio and painted.

TIME CAMPUS: How long does it take you to create a Claude Monet-style water lily pond or a Jackson Pollock action painting work?

Beltracchi: I wouldn't paint Pollock. This dribbling is too boring for me. At Monet, size matters. If it is to be an abstract, late work, I need about a day. The work when Monet was almost blind fascinates me. You can feel how he approaches Mark Rothko.

TIME CAMPUS: You have made millions with your deceptions.

Beltracchi: The art market is a fantasy world. It's about unreal values. Believing in art is like going to church. The auction houses made even more money with my fakes.