Warhol Denied.

Posted by Rob Walker on October 8, 2009
Posted Under: Artists,Suggestions

The New York Review has a quite interesting writeup about controversy over whether certain works attributed to Warhol are or are not authentic. One set of images in particular is at the center of a lawsuit because a board of the Warhol Foundation, which passes judgment on such matters, has ruled negatively. The piece says:

When a work is deemed not to be by Warhol, it is mutilated by stamping it in ink on the reverse with the word “DENIED”—thereby rendering the picture unsaleable even if the board later changes its mind. Although a lawyer for the board has said that no one forces applicants to submit works for authentication, no auction house or dealer will handle a work whose authenticity the board has questioned. A painting stamped DENIED is worthless.

My initial reaction to this was: Really? I’ll take them all! Give you a hundred bucks, even.

But I suppose “worthless” is relative. Probably the owner paid a lot and couldn’t get that amount again.

So my second reaction was that if I had the wherewithal, I’d mount a show called “WARHOL DENIED,” made up of works the board has “mutilated” with that “Denied” stamp.

For starters, I’d actually like to see them. With the series at the center of the lawsuit, the issue appears to boil down to whether or not Warhol’s hand was in any way involved in the work. But of course Warhol devoted a lot of clever thinking to the ambiguity of what the artist’s hand really meant. The NYR piece spells all this out so I won’t rehash it. I’m more just curious to see what else the board has thumbs-downed.

Moreover, I think the show could actually be profitable — by converting the “DENIED” into a status marker of sorts: Yes, this an Official Denied Warhol.

I happen to think Warhol himself would endorse that idea.

Further diversion may be found at MKTG Tumblr, and the Consumed Facebook page.

Reader Comments

I like the way you think, pal.

Written By cousin lymon on October 8th, 2009 @ 10:27 pm

This is awesome.

Owning a work dubbed officially fake by the Warhol Foundation seems like the logical culmination of everything Andy championed.

Written By Drew Breunig on October 9th, 2009 @ 11:54 am

I concur: good thinking.

Written By Randy Ludacer on October 9th, 2009 @ 4:03 pm

I actually covered this topic in a series called “Warhol Denied, Denial and Acceptance” back in 2006-2007, where I actually sent fake Warhol’s to the authentication board to be “officially” denied. You can see works from the series at warholdenied.com

Written By charles Lutz on August 21st, 2010 @ 11:49 am

I wasn’t actually thinking of works made specifically to be denied, but that’s a great project. Nicely done, and thanks for the info.

Written By Rob Walker on August 22nd, 2010 @ 7:14 am

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