In a world of fakes and dupes, finding authentic art pieces is tricky.
Photo by Dannie Jing on Unsplash
When shopping for original art, it’s crucial to make sure you’re aware of all the dupes out there. Many people dedicate their entire careers to identifying fakes. Thankfully, you don’t have to be an expert to spot some key red flags.
There are even ways to find authentic art pieces online, but it’s trickier. Many websites don’t actively police their sellers. A reputable online art gallery is the surefire way to go when sourcing authentic and original pieces.
Rule Out Prints
Some forgers work in the business of mass-producing prints or an art piece. Thankfully, a lot of prints are very easy to rule out. Some prints you can tell are prints just by holding them. Some try to mimic the texture of a painting.
If a painting is held under a light source, you should be able to see the light shining through the canvas if it’s an original. This is because artists work with various layers of paints and colors. Prints won’t have any of this. If the light doesn’t shine through, it might be a print.
Check the Provenance
The provenance of an art piece is a record of its ownership history dating back to when the original artist painted it. Attaining the provenance can be difficult for older works, and unfortunately, forged paintings develop a provenance of their own as they are sold from person to person.
Forgers can also fake documents as easily as they can with paintings, but it’s easier to do this with older work. Checking the provenance of a modern art piece is a great way to verify its authenticity.
Check the Signature
Lots of people new to art shopping automatically associate a signature with authenticity, but that’s not always the case. While none of the quick tricks to identify forged signatures could substitute the eye of a trained professional, there are ways you can try and identify fake signatures on your own.
First, check the signature on the artwork and compare it to the artist’s signature across their other work. If it looks different, the painting may not be authentic. Unfortunately, most forgers are skilled enough to replicate signatures effectively.
With a trained eye, almost anyone could forge a signature. Even if the signature has enough similarities with the artist’s other work, that doesn’t mean it isn’t forged.
You should make sure that you also pay attention to the signature’s location. Most artists have a particular place on their pieces where they like to put their signature. A common forgery tactic is putting the signature on the back of the art even when the artist typically puts theirs on the front, so keep that in mind.
When buying online, make sure the seller provides a detailed image of the signature. The image should lack glare or too many shadows. If the seller doesn’t have a detailed picture of the signature, have them e-mail you one. You can’t be too careful.
You should also be careful with pencil and ink signatures. These are the easiest to forge. Not every piece signed with pencil or ink is forged. Some genuine artists have pencil and ink signatures, but because the signature type is easy to fake, take even more caution.
Ensure you check that the surrounding area of the signature looks identical to the rest of the painting. Some forgers will paint over signatures of lesser-known artists and try to pass their work off as that of famous ones.
Spotting fake signatures will help you on your quest to find authentic art. When the signature is off, It’s a surefire way of ruling out a painting as inauthentic.
Find a Reputable Source
Due to all the reasons mentioned above, take caution when shopping online. Most online auction sites are risky. Try and find a dependable website for your art shopping. There are legitimate galleries that sell online! As with anything online, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Remember that on the untrustworthy internet sites, people lie—a lot. The issue doesn’t just lie in whether or not a piece of art is traditionally authentic. Some art pieces may be genuine but wholly misrepresented. Very few websites moderate how people describe and price the paintings they sell, making the internet feel like the wild west of art dealing.
It’s your safest bet to go through a reputable gallery or dealer. With a reputable dealer or gallery, you can rest assured that professionals have vetted the work you’re buying. You might even get the inside scoop and reassurance from the curator themself.
Certificate of Authenticity
Make sure any piece of art you buy comes with a certificate of authenticity. This certificate must be sold with the original painting. Artwork without a certificate is almost definitely fake.
Unfortunately, if people can forge intricate paintings, people can trick you into thinking that the certificate is legitimate as well. The certificate of authenticity shouldn’t be the only thing to look at when determining if you’re painting is authentic.
Find the Artwork of Your Dreams
Just with a few simple methods to rule out bad actors, you can be more confident when buying authentic art. Of course, nothing can replace a dedicated professional’s work, but not everyone has the resources to hire one.
The online shopping world has turned every industry, including the art world, on its head. It’s easier for forgers to sell inauthentic paintings to unsuspecting buyers on a mass scale. Even with this new age, physical forgeries in stores still happen.
Fakes are everywhere. It would be awful to think you’re investing in a piece from an artist you admire, only to find out you put all that money into a con. Make sure to protect yourself when buying art by using a reputable gallery and doing your research.