To see something new, go back to the sources

March 17th, 2009
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Essential Vermeer interview with Jonathan Lopez, author of the The Man Who Made Vermeers: Unvarnishing the Legend of Master Forger Han van Meegeren.

Han van Meegeren, the man who made Vermeers for decades, is justifiably the most written-about forger of all times. The most recent and original book on the topic is written by New York art historian Jonathan Lopez. Lopez casts new light on an old story by  fine tuning the results of years of patient research.

Two key points of the book are Van Meegeren’s hitherto underplayed Nazi sympathies and the mind set which allowed the greatest forger of all times to dupe the leading art specialists of his time. In order to explain the chasm between today’s unanimous view of Van Meegeren’s fakes as unsightly imitations and their original enthusiastic reception as true masterworks by Vermeer, Lopez reveals that “a fake doesn’t necessarily succeed or fail according to the fidelity with which it replicates the distant past but on the basis of its power to sway the contemporary mind.”

Jonathan opened up to an interview in which he explains what went into the book’s making and some fascinating side thoughts on Van Meegeren the man, whose brilliant darkness is probably better understood by Lopez than anyone else.

2 Responses to “To see something new, go back to the sources”

  1. Eric Rhoads

    I”ve read several books about Han van Meegeren and this tells the story as I have never heard it and seems to be backed with more facts and interviews. I found it a fascinating read. There were some new angles not seen in previous books.
    Eric Rhoads, Fine Art Connoisseur Magazine

  2. Jonathan Janson

    I agree. I had always kept myself at arm’s length from the too-sordid forgery-of-all-forgeries case, but Lopez got me to me move in closer and ask myself new questions. His combined hard-nosed research, intuition and an enviable writing talent gives us a bigger, more complex story that has implications outside the specific case. What more do you want from an art book?

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