Friday, October 27, 2006

Quebecois Art is a hoax / L'art est un canular


As some of you may know, I really liked the film Rechercher Victor Pellerin. One of the reasons is because of its conclusion.

Big Warning, Spoiler Alert, If You Do Not Want The Ending Of The Film Ruined, Do Not Read Any Further!

But as auction season is about to start, I figure I should warn some people

One of the many things that makes the film fascinating is that there is admission all over the place that Victor Pellerin would forge paintings that were in lawyers offices in Montreal, take the real painting, replace it with the forged, and then sell the real.

They do not, in the film list any specific law firms, nor any specific paintings, and they do mention that no one is sure of what paintings, when or where, or if any fakes are still left in lawyers offices. And I do not know if 'law firms' is only law firms or if it is also engineering firms, accounting firms, or any other corporate art collection.

My guess is that there is some small group that is aware of this, but it has not made it into anything approaching common knowledge.

The Sotheby's Ritchies auction coming up lists 'cooperate collection, Montreal' in provenance as a means to promote a piece of art. After having seen the film, I would interpret that to mean DO NOT BUY, without much further information from someone swearing up and down and jumping like a banshee that a painting from a corporate collection is not a fake.

Victor Pellerin was active in the mid to late 80's, so anything bought by a corporation after that would be safe in my eyes.

Alain Lacoursiere, the Montreal Police officer interviewed in the film, specifically says he cannot discuss on film any specifics because it is all based on circumstantial evidence.

That's why I made the crack about 'it also sums up very nicely one of the reasons why Quebecois art is in the doldrums, I wish someone could go out and make a list of all the art that is in all the law firms in town.'

And then finally, in the film, when Eric Devlin is confronted with the fact that Victor Pellerin faked his 'sold-out' New York show, and made fakes to support himself, and is implicated in abetting the faking, states "L'art est un canular.' Or in English 'Art is a hoax.' That phrase is the basis for an 'underground' -like marketing campaign that the film's producers have been staging.

While I imagine Andy Warhol being able to get away with saying everything he makes is a fake, no disrespect intended, Eric Devlin is no Andy Warhol.

I have been playing phone tag with Officier Lacoursiere, and expect to be able to get more details from him on Monday. I have also been attempting to get in touch with Sophie Deraspe, the director of the film as well - but so far the Festival du Nouveau Cinema hasn't given me the time of day.

[update 2:30 pm: Never Mind, the film is even better now, in my mind, my crank was turned, turned hard, and I am blushing so brightly that it is probably possible to see this particular shade of crimson in Toronto. There is not a Victor Pellerin, there has never been a Victor Pellerin, there is unlikely to ever be a Victor Pellerin, and Sophie Deraspe is one amazing film maker, go see the film.]

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