By Adam Lerner

In 2010 the Museum of up to date artwork Denver director Adam Lerner did whatever exceptional within the museum global: he fastened a wide exhibition of work with no first realizing whether or not they have been actual or fakes. Painted within the Suprematist and Constructivist type of early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde masters, the 181 canvases have been obtained by means of novice creditors Ron and Roger Pollard from a mysterious vendor in Germany they met on eBay who claimed the work have been present in an deserted transport box held in German customs because the Nineteen Eighties. In From Russia with Doubt, Lerner skillfully weaves jointly the tale—from the preliminary eBay locate to his debatable selection to show the collection—guiding readers during the having a look glass into the Byzantine corridors of the paintings global and past, describing the owners' quest to authenticate and appraise the would-be masterpieces. What he reveals increases robust questions on our personal dating to paintings.

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Extra resources for From Russia With Doubt: The Quest to Authenticate 181 Would-Be Masterpieces of the Russian Avant-Garde

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While the collectors were determined to disprove the results of the lab, its analysis did not actually entirely rule out the possibility that Malevich had painted the white cross. Ron had asked the lab to test whether it had been painted in 1915—the year of Malevich’s breakout exhibition of suprematist works, which included a black cross painting. ” 11 The painting could not have been painted in 1915, but when Ron submitted the painting to the lab, he did not know that Malevich made cross paintings and drawings through the late 1920s.

15 In a gesture that combined elements of both religion and poliFig. 36 Malevich’s cross paintings— including this 1923 work, Black Cross—generally showed the same width for the vertical and horizontal axes of the cross. Though not interested in religion, Malevich imbued his works with a deeply spiritual impulse. (State Russian Museum, Saint Petersburg) Fig. 37 (opposite) This white cross on a black background is stylistically similar to Malevich’s suprematist work. 18 All this suggests that, as much as Malevich thought that he was representing the pure act of human creation, he spent a great deal of time in Vitebsk not creating but promoting.

When asked about the origins of the paintings, one of the sellers sent a rambling response (reproduced in Appendix B, pages 148–49), explaining that a shipping container from Russia had arrived at a German customs office in the 1980s and remained there because the shippers couldn’t pay the duty. After a long time, customs officers broke open the container and found that it was filled with Russian icons and paintings. They auctioned off the contents, and a circle of antique dealers throughout Europe began to trade in Russian avantgarde art from the shipping container.

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