Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fake or Real?

About 16 years ago, the husband & I hired an interior designer from the most expensive furniture store in town to help decorate/furnish his new apartment. (yeah that was back when we had money...aka "before children"...LOL) So $16,000 later, he had all these great furnishings, a grand TV, some cool accessories, and several pieces of art. A couple of these were canvas paintings - which I thought were ---> "original paintings".

Fast forward until about a year ago. I was hanging some of my artwork in the master bedroom, but I still wanted to keep these "originals" we paid that pretty penny for 16 years ago in the room. As I took the "originals" down to rearrange them, I studied them. Something didn't look exactly right. I guess the first thing I noticed were the price tags still on the backs...the 20"x20" impressionist landscape was almost $400, and the 12"x18" still life floral was almost $300. But as I looked very closely at the canvases, I noticed the brush strokes didn't match the painting. Under better light, I determined these were not original paintings at all...they were canvas prints coated with a medium to mimic the brushstrokes. The wood frames were nice, but not super elegant and although ornate, were rather normal in style...similar to what I could pick up at Hobby Lobby for $20 on a sale day. And this was 16 years ago these were purchased.

I have to admit, I felt a little deflated once realizing these orignals were not that at all. Now granted, it's my own lack of knowledge when I was involved in this transaction which is at fault here. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with a reproduction - as long as you are aware that's what it is. At the time, I was not aware, and it was my own fault for assuming and not specifying my desires for artwork.

There's just something extra special about an original painting. I have a small painting given to me as a gift years ago which is hanging in one of the bathrooms. I have carried that painting with me to every home, and hung it were I'd enjoy it every day - simply because it's an original painting. It has a FEEL, a LOOK, and a bit of the ARTIST himself in it....it makes it more ALIVE to me. I'm very attached to it. I have another original I purchased off Ebay hanging too - it's a larger piece, a simple and serene landscape with deep blue and some purple hues...I love it...it will also stay with me. But these others I "thought" were originals...suddenly they have lost the luster for me. I picture machines spitting these out like today's newspaper, and factory workers slapping on medium and going over it quickly with a brush to make it look "real". And I'm sorry, but that just doesn't have the same appeal to me as the visual I have of an artist in front of the easel pouring his/her heart & soul into the work!

If I'd have known what I know now about art, I wouldn't have bought these pieces. Because nowadays, with the infusion of the internet and the better accessibility to artists worldwide, I KNOW I could have gotten original paintings for the same money - or even less. (after all, what would $700 16 years ago come out to be NOW?) And I can assure you, I'd much rather have an original - unless I just like the design/style/artist so much that I want the "image" no matter what it's on. But for that kind of money, gimme an original. :)

Certainly, if you're after a certain name in the art world which is in high demand, it might not be possible at a lower price. But there are many great artists out there, who do create art which can fit in any environment as "home decor" (which is what we purchased the art for...to create a "look" in that room with our furnishings and other accessories), and who create it at very reasonable prices.

If I had it to do over again, I would have specified I wanted originals only. And I'm sure with the availability presented to interior designers worldwide nowadays, my designer could have easily found me something reasonable from a wealth of artists displaying their work on the internet and/or in our local galleries.

I cringe every time I go into a local home decor store which sells mass-produced canvas reproductions for the same and sometimes higher prices than the originals of many of our local artists & many artists I see on the internet. I think of the unsuspecting, uninformed people - like I was years ago - who will actually think those are "real" paintings, and who will pay a big price, only to find out at a later date it's fake...it's not real. To them, it might not matter. But to me, it was disheartening.


P.S. Yes, those "prints" are still hanging - but only until I replace them with originals. I no longer have the attachment to them I used to.

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