Archive Fever! 7.0
Beltracchi: The Art of Forgery
dir. Arne Birkenstock, Germany, 2014, DCP, color, German w/ English subtitles, 93 min.
For nearly 40 years, Wolfgang Beltracchi fooled the international art world and was responsible for the biggest art forgery scandal of the postwar era. An expert in art history, theory and painting techniques, he tracked down the gaps in the oeuvres of great artists – Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Heinrich Campendonk, André Derain and Max Pechstein, above all – and filled them with his own works. He and his wife Helene would then introduce them to the art world as originals.
What makes these forgeries truly one-of-a-kind is that they are never mere copies of once-existing paintings, but products of Beltracchi’s imagination, works “in the style of” famous early 20th-century artists.