Barely 200 euros for a drawing by Andy Warhol? Artists sell one original among 999 fakes

In order to denounce the mercantile tricks of the art market, a collective of New York artists sold a real drawing by Andy Warhol estimated at $ 20,000 in the midst of a thousand identical copies. Each drawing was sold for 250 dollars, but the collective claims to no longer know which is the original.

1 in 1000 chance. Buy a drawing by Andy Warhol, drown it in a mass of copies and sell them for $ 250 each. This is the principle of a sale launched by the Counterfeit Museum (Museum of forgeries), a collective of New York artists eager to denounce the concepts of “authenticity” and “exclusivity” that predominate in the art market.

The MSCHF collective (Mischief, mischief in English) put on sale this Monday a thousand copies of a drawing by the American pop artist for the modest sum of 250 dollars each, or about 215 euros. At such a price, all of the designs were sold in one day.

However, 999 of these drawings are in reality only replicas of the original work, dated 1954 and baptized “Fairies“(fairies). The original – estimated at $ 20,000, or a little over 17,000 euros – has been mixed up with these copies. And the artist collective now claims that it is unable to determine what the actual drawing was. from the hand of Warhol.

“Treat art irreverently”

With this project, “we want to ‘break’ this kind of steadfastness that may exist around certain artists or certain works in the art world,” Kevin Wiesner, MSCHF co-founder, told BFMTV.com. “Some are considered sacred, and destroying their authenticity would be seen as something scandalous. We, our goal, is to destroy this exclusivity in order to democratize the work, to make it more accessible”.

The MSCHF robotic arm reproducing the work of Warhol.
The MSCHF robotic arm reproducing the work of Warhol. © MSCHF

“What amuses us is to treat these works and art in a totally irreverent way, in a way that would horrify the art world as we know it”, continues this artist of a new genre. . “We take great pleasure in destroying the provenance of a work such as’Fairies‘, probably forever. It’s a way to beat them at their own game. “

At $ 20,000, such a work “is very expensive,” says Kevin Wiesner, “and most people will probably never own any.” “But by destroying its authenticity, we are making it accessible to as many people as possible: henceforth it is no longer a single person who can have access to this work, but 1000”.

Make fun of the “repeatable style” of some

The artist explains that to make these 999 copies, the collective “obtained a pencil similar to the one used to make the original”, before “developing a robotic arm capable of reproducing the drawing identically” . “Our copies reproduce the line, and the intention intended by the artist,” says Kevin Wiesner, “but the most difficult thing was to succeed in simulating the aging of the paper, because the drawing dates from 1954 and the paper from the original work shows signs of wear related to light “.

The robotic arm that allowed the reproduction of Fairies 999 times.
The robotic arm that allowed the reproduction of Fairies 999 times. © MSCHF

Through his Counterfeit Museum, Kevin Wiesner also says he wants to “make fun” of certain contemporary artists “such as Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons who have achieved notoriety, and sometimes produce mercantile art”. “They have an infinitely reproducible and deployable style, which in a way allows them to secure a fixed income …”

These artists, argues Kevin Wiesner, “have found a kind of lode that appeals to the public and is easily reproducible, and exploit it endlessly for commercial purposes, but today by producing 999 copies of the original work of Warhol, we are reducing its value. “

“The bond of trust has been broken”

“If he had the 1000 drawings next to each other, an expert would not have much trouble finding the original, I have no doubt,” admits this member of the MSCHF. “But the point is that the 1000 copies are not all in one place anymore, they are now scattered around the world. Today, the bond of trust has been broken and none of the art galleries that will now claim to own the original cannot be taken seriously. “

In the end, the total sales of 1000 copies of this drawing by the master of pop art amounted to $ 250,000 – much more, therefore than the estimate of the original work. The Warhol Foundation, which was contacted by AFP, did not immediately react to the initiative.

Lil Nas X’s “satanic” sneakers, it was them

This is not the first coup of the MSCHF collective, created in 2016 in New York and based in the Brooklyn district, specializing in operations for the reappropriation of works of art or commercial objects. Last April, the collective made a name for itself with its “Satan shoes”, “satanic” sneakers created and sold for $ 1018 a pair, in partnership with the American rapper Lil Nas X.

The soles of the sneakers were believed to contain a drop of human blood, which led the model’s original manufacturer, Nike, to sue MSCHF for infringement and brand dilution.

Jeanne Bulant BFMTV reporter

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