The nouveau fakes: Russian avant-garde forgeries
Date: 21 Aug 2009 | | Views: 3150
The country's new rich have millions to spend – and are falling victim to an age-old ruse, says Andrew Johnson
Kazimir Malevich's Suprematist Composition No 56, from 1936
They are paintings created in the crucible of social turmoil, their sharp blocks of colour and abstract geometric forms signifying a bold new direction in art and society.
The avant-garde works by the likes of Malevich, Popova, Kandinsky and Goncharova are attracting bigger and bigger prices at auction – last year Goncharova became the highest-selling female artist – and decorate the mansions of Russia's oligarchs and new business elite. There is just one problem. Most of them are fakes.
Such is the popularity of the revolutionary art movements such as Constructivism and Suprematism, which spread through Russia in the early part of the 20th century, that forgers are glutting the market. Art experts estimate that at least 50 per cent, and as many as 80 per cent, of works offered for sale in a market worth millions of pounds are forgeries.