Posted by Alex Arthur on June 30, 1999 at 06:47:14:
In Reply to: Reproductions versus The Real Thing posted by Phantom Collector on June 24, 1999 at 11:28:05:
Firstly, well-done for finally raising an interesting subject for "debate". I will reply partially because of lack of time, but hopefully, the discussion will continue with various collectors, dealers etc participating with useful insights.
Granted, there are plenty of dealers who deal in fakes mixed with authentic. They split into those that knowingly do so and others that just donn't get it! Through the print version of this magazine and others, the advertisers are being very public about what they are selling and open to the scrutiny of their peers - with this in mind, I have noticed an effort on behalf of many dealers, to not offer disputable pieces as much as was once the case. Many of the "rogues" in the business chose not to be so public. It is difficult to perhaps attain the label "reputable" because of the competitive nature between art-dealers but careful attention to ads over a period of time should satisfy many collectors as to a certain dealers taste and validity.
Unfortunately, there are no real associations that guarantee tribal art, but there is an association with a code of ethics (ATADA - Antique tribal art dealers association) that its members should adhere to. If I remember correctly, any member has to accept the return of any proven fake. Perhaps then, it is the collector that must insist on guarantee and return policies with a chosen dealer or not do business ....
My hope is that while the authentic material diminishes, our knowledge of antique tribal art is always increasing - magazines, books, websites all contribute to us sharing information globally and this growing awareness should eventually eliminate the bad eggs from the marketplace.
On the subject of "buyer beware". In some way, collecting itself is an art of accumulating knowledge and expertise, NOT just pieces of wood with labels attesting to their ethnic origin. There are many collectors who eventually know more about given areas than the dealer they are buying from - but most didn't get there by never making a mistake, never looking at books and museum collections and not asking questions of the objects they purchase.
A last thought on ascertaining authenticity: Let's face it, patinas and techniques can be duplicated to varying degrees of accuracy - good enough to fool collectors, dealers, museums and so-called experts (in ALL fields of art), but we should remember that the most difficult job of a forger is to capture the spirit and fluidity of the carver that made the original items. Authentic and archaic tribal art is charged with this "spirit" and are seldom rigid representations of a style. The greatest known masterpieces all have it. Learn to distinguish this, and the battle is 3/4 done.
Any more opinions?
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