The Museum of Forgeries is equal parts prank, social experiment, and commentary on the nature of art as currency. It’s the latest project by the art and design collective MSCHF (pronounced “mischief”), which purchased an original sketch by Andy Warhol at auction for $20,000, created 999 precise replicas using a robot artist and aged paper, and then mixed them all up together. Not even the collective knows which is the real one.
Now, it’s selling all 1000 – 999 copies plus one original – for $250 each. Every buyer has a 1 in 1,000 chance of getting a genuine Warhol. But the trick is, there isn’t any way to know which you have.
“By forging [Warhol’s drawing] en masse, we obliterate the trail of provenance for the artwork,” the collective explained in a statement. “Though physically undamaged, we destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work. By burying a needle in a needlestack, we render the original as much a forgery as any of our replications.”
The piece was chosen specifically because it could easily be replicated – Sketched in 1954, it’s a minimalist ink drawing of three people playing jump rope. The title is “Fairies.”
Everyone who purchases part of the Museum of Forgeries will receive one copy of “Fairies” along with two certificates of authenticity published by MSCHF. One will identify the work as “Fairies” by Andy Warhol, and one will identify it as “Possibly Real Copy of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol” by MSCHF.
“Warhol is a key point in the canon of art intermeshing with mechanical reproduction,” MSCHF chief creative officer Kevin Wiesner said in a statement with Artnet News. “He mainstreamed the idea that great artists don’t produce their own works themselves, which at some point farther back in history would have been as verboten as forgery.”
Warhol would, MSCHF maintains, have approved of their little prank.
Image: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock.com