There many artists I painted in the last 30 years, but Dali, Chagall, Miro, Erte, are among the most well-known that I did “professionally” from 1972 to 1989. Here I discuss the methods I used for the emulations and the provenance that I created for my forgeries of Marc Chagall’s art works.
“I did every medium that Chagall did. This includes oils, gouaches, watercolors, drawings, lithographs and etchings. Chagall wasn’t much of a draftsman. In fact he couldn’t trace his own hand, but he had a distinctive style that he stole from an Israeli artist named Ruven Ruben. He was a “colorist”. He managed to put colors together that were unique, and remarkably complimentary to each other. He also used La France oils and gouaches and watercolors so I wasn’t concerned about chemical testing.
Because he was so good with color, I had to be sure to emulate his color sense. All Chagall paintings had “Chagall colors”. I read once that while Chagall was working on his famous “stain glass windows” in a synagogue in Israel a group of children came by to see the master at work. Chagall asked them “do you understand Chagall?” and some said “yes” and Chagall replied “that’s funny, I don’t”. This was an epiphany to me, because I’m sure he didn’t. Artists love to talk about their art with profound descriptions and definitions of the symbolism they used. The more I read, the more confused I was. So I stopped reading and concentrated on their work instead.
I believe that most modern artists place objects in a painting because they fit. And then come up with intellectual horseshit to back up the fact that they were stumped. So I put lovers or flying fish or chickens or whatever Chagall used in his paintings whenever I was stumped, too. I made sure that I didn’t mix eras (put objects that were in the 40’s that were not in the 60’s and vice versa) This applied to Dali as well. I know it seems over simplified, but everything doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact artists who have a consistency in their work and don’t arbitrarily put symbolic objects in their paintings are easier to emulate – like realists and portrait artists.
I only did two Chagall oils. I enjoyed doing them but they were just too important and dangerous since most Chagall oils were so well cataloged. I did variations of two Chagall watercolors in oil. This made sense because Chagall and other artists would like something they did in one medium then do it in another. Artists are like writers, ideas don’t just pop up, they have to be thought out and they often have “painters block”.
An art dealer in Beverly Hills asked me to do them. He had a client who had more money than god and loved Chagall. This art dealer had enough clout where he could guarantee their authenticity. His client only asked for one but he was sure he could sell two. So I did two paintings on old canvas and striped off the old paint. There was an antique/gallery on La Cienega that had French paintings by minor artists from the late 1800’s to the 1950’s with beautiful old and “correct” stretcher bars. The only problem was the gallery owner asked way too much for them. The two paintings cost almost $9,000 and all I needed was the stretcher bars and canvas. Fortunately the art dealer that commissioned me was a good guy and I was confident he wouldn’t screw me. I never had any contracts or work orders, everything I did was on a handshake. I was still concerned because this could backfire, so I insisted on cash and not a check so there wouldn’t be a paper trail.
I eventually had an off shore corporation formed so that all art dealers could write checks to me. As it turned out, this art dealer was arrested for selling fake art and I was never connected. He was also acquitted because the prosecution couldn’t prove the art he sold was fake. The two oils were not involved in the case.”