Italian Forgers: The Art Market and the Weight of the Past in Modern Italy (Hardcover)
Italian Forgers takes an unorthodox approach to the fascinating topic of art forgery, focusing not on art forgery per se, but on the major forgery scandals that shifted the Italian art market in response to constant, and often intense, demand for Italian objects. By focusing on power dynamics that both precipitated forgery scandals and forged Italian cultural identities, this book connects the debates and discussions about three well-known Italian forgers--Giovanni Bastianini, Icilio Joni, and Alceo Dossena--to anchor and investigate the mechanics of the Italian art market from unification through the fascist era.
Carol Helstosky examines foreign accounts of transactions and Italian writings about the art market. The actions and words of Italian dealers illustrate how the Italian art and antiquities market was an undeniably modern industry, on par with tourism in terms of its contribution to the Italian economy and to understandings of Italian identity. These accounts also reveal how dealers, artists, go-betweens, guides, and restorers worked to not only meet the intense demand for Italian products but also to develop highly sophisticated business practices to maintain financial stability and respond to shifts in demand consciously (but not always conscientiously).
Italian Forgers weaves a compelling narrative about the history of Italian identity, forgery, and the value of the past. As a result, Helstosky brings historical perspective to the study of art forgery and art fraud. She reveals how historical circumstances and structural imbalances of cultural power shaped the market for art and antiquities and amplified incidents of art deception and forgery scandals.
About the Author
Carol Helstosky is Professor of History at the University of Denver. She is the author of Garlic and Oil, Pizza, and Food Culture in the Mediterranean.