Christian Jankowski’s fake art exhibition
The artist uses online tributes to great works to commission Chinese copies that aren't quite right
Christian Jankowksi’s current exhibition at the Grisebach auction house in Berlin is called Neue Malerei or New Painting. Technically, the title is correct, as all the works were all made recently at a commercial art studio in Shenzhen, southern China.
However, the sources for this German artist’s commission are of a slightly older vintage. As the auction house explains, Jankowski found photographs of tableaux vivants - or real life arrangements of people, mimicking famous paintings - which he sent on to the Shenzhen workshop to be copied.
This odd, additional stage of removal, not only makes the works on show less of a parody and more of an unusual meditation on authenticity, art history, and the internet; it also makes you wonder what sort of a person would set aside an afternoon to recreate David Hockney’s early 1970s painting, Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy, posing as the white cat on Ossie’s lap (see top).
New Paintings is also in keeping with the artist's previous work, which, as we explain in The 21st Century Art Book, "uses ironic humour as a carrier for some weightier ideas."
“Jankowski’s unusual approach to masterworks of art could be described as appropriation art,” says the Berlin auction house, which also selling the paintings. “His unsettlingly beautiful works make us wonder whether the canon and its underlying principles still exists.”
For more on fine art and fakery, get The Art of Forgery; for more on Christian Jankowski get The 21st Century Art Book.