Fakes and Forgeries 


Project: Artefact (2D or 3D)

Throughout the history of art and culture in general the practice of imitating or copying art has been widespread.  This has happened in the case of one artist or craftsman imitating the work of another or even where a whole culture has borrowed from another (such as in classicism and even through to the various forms of neo-classicism). 

The idea of faking or forging art or artifacts is a relatively recent development.  Printmakers in the 16th century sometimes initialed their work ‘AD’ after Albrecht Durer in order to command higher prices.  The work of some notable forgers such as that of the painter de Hory has become valuable in its own right.

Fakes and forgeries are not limited to the sphere of the visual arts but cover literature, espionage, and even massed produced artifacts such as watches, trainers and perfume.

From legitimate facsimiles, through amusements such as trompe-l’oeil, to blatant forgeries created for the purpose of defrauding others, there are many reasons why documents and artifacts are copied.  The technical process of trying to imitate something so closely so that it can be mistaken as genuine is both challenging and informative.

By creating their own ‘forgery’, pupils will learn a series of skills and techniques that are either 2D or 3D based depending on what they choose to forge.  In addition they will learn much about the history and traditions of copying in the arts.


  Project Outline

Create a 2D or 3D artifact that is a close copy of a document, painting, sculpture or object.  The work can be in response to the concept of fake or forgery, of Photorealism, or of trompe-l’oeuil  The work is developed following a brief planning phase.

Following an introduction to the subject, pupils select a piece of art, document or artifact to ‘forge’.  They will be encouraged to select a source that is challenging but manageable and will undertake a brief planning phase to consider how they will complete their forgery.  The planning phase will be fairly loose and it is expected that further planning and adjustments will take place during the making phase.


 Project Objectives

By the end of the project pupils will:

1.    Understand the role of copying, imitating and simulating artifacts in both contemporary society and traditionally.

2.    Understand the meanings of new technical terminology.

3.    Have explored a range of visual and written sources as starting points for the development of their work.

4.    Understand the importance of developing good source material and the impact of source material quality on the quality of the outcome.

5.  Have explored a range of two-dimensional media and worked with mixed media.

6.    Learn to maintain pace over a sustained piece of work.


This will be achieved by:

1.    Discussing the range of this ideas of this theme.

2.   Examining and discussing specific artefacts and works of art that could fall under this theme.

3.    Researching and resourcing their own source material to compliment the materials supplied to them.

4.   Working with a range of two-dimensional and three-dimensional media

5.    Evaluating their own and others work against the project objectives


Project Expectations and Outcomes

In order to be successful pupils will:

1.    Participate in class discussion about the concepts and processes of the project and understand the terms: replica, reproduction, counterfeit, fake, faux, trompe l’oeuil, copy, facsimile, fraud.

2.   Gather strong source material of their own based upon the written descriptions they are given.

3.    Complete an artifact.


The most successful pupils will:

1.    Use a wind range of media and experiment with and extend their knowledge of how various media and techniques can be used in combination to create successful outcomes.


 Project Phases

Project phases describe the main distinct elements or phases of the project.  They are not necessarily sequential and can run concurrently.


Phase 1

Fakes and Forgeries words

Pupils are given sets of words to discuss in groups and give feedback about how the words were discussed – meanings, context, groupings etc.

Masterpieces ppt – a selection of images selected to broaden the pupils knowledge and understanding of the project theme.

‘What’s Hot and What’s Not” – a task to get the pupils on the right track

Three legged spider – a task

Use the ppt below for reference information about the artists and paintings looked at in the Eyes Project.