Facsimile of Authenticity

Love the concept, but this pad of Arches watercolor paper is about an inch too small in each direction. [UPDATE: IT IS NOT, IT IS JUST FINE. The catalogue just dropped with new, slightly smaller dimensions for the Manet: 32.8 x 24.8 cm. The difference is probably the frame, but it’s good to pin these things down!]

Orders are coming in, facsimile objects are being needed, and so certificates of authenticity must also be realized. So I’ve been thinking about them.

The 1:1:1 scale of the certificate to the facsimile object to the work felt right immediately for many logical, conceptual, historical, and aesthetic reasons.

Walter de Maria, one half of his High Energy Unit (1966/69)

The coexistence of the certificate and the object remind me of Walter de Maria’s High Energy Bar, an infinite series he insisted was not a multiple, but which he also considered to unite with its certificate of authenticity to become a distinct work, a High Energy Unit. De Maria bought his fancy certificates from the old-timey stock certificate printer, and kept the registry of owners’ names secure, he promised, in a Swiss vault.

Stephen Prina, Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet, 232 of 556, Berthe Morisot à l’Eventail, (Berthe Morisot with a Fan), 1874, (March 4, 2012), ink wash on rag (L) and offset print (R), image via maureen paley via ocula

Obviously, when it comes to embodying Manets, Stephen Prina’s Exquisite Corpse: The Complete Paintings of Manet (1988– ) comes to mind. I do not envision making a career of making 556 Manet facsimile objects. The circumstances that compel this one are highly specific and, if civilization (sic) can get its socio-political act together and end this pandemic, very limited. Please do not let the world of Manets exist beyond our experiential reach for much longer.

Anyway, though I have a deep spot in my heart for the monochrome, I feel like making a monochrome ink wash Minnay would end up more a Prina Facsimile Object than a certificate of authenticity for this Manet Facsimile Object. So I’m still thinking, staring, and experimenting, but soon I will also be getting paper of the appropriate size.

Also, I guess I wrote this in 2009:

Interestingly, though there are hundreds of mentions of High Energy Bar, there were only two mentions of the “complete” piece, High Energy Unit. [It makes me start to wonder about the underappreciated existence our poor certificates must lead, even as they’ve become so important to the authenticity and integrity of the work. Is anyone else making sexy artist certificates–or art about certificates, even–that remain ignored or unknown by everyone but the work’s purchaser? Will an artist make a work whose aesthetic or artistic payoff is actually the [secret] certificate itself? If you have or know of any awesome certificates languishing in any file cabinets out there, by all means, let me know.]

And here we are.

Also, related: Paul Revere (attr.), Time Capsule Plaque, engraved text on silver, c. 1795
Engraved on my memory, perhaps

Édouard Manet Facsimile Object

Édouard Manet, Minnay, 1879, 38 x 28 cm, [update: I legit have no idea where these dimensions came from, perhaps my photoshop settings? Anyway, the Manet is 34.8 x 24.8 cm] oil on canvas, to be publicly exhibited for the first time beginning 24 Feb., in advance of being sold at Drouot

I want to go to Paris. I want to see this little Édouard Manet painting of a dog that has never been shown publicly, not once in 142 years. I want to go to Paris to see this Manet painting of a dog which, in just a couple of weeks, will be on view at Drouot for two days and an hour. I want to own this Manet painting. I want to stand in front of it whenever I want, and to watch the features of this dog, and the dashed off brushstrokes that conjure them, dissolve into the vibrations of the atmosphere.

As the world stands right now, the probability of my achieving any of this is low. But it will be at least theoretically possible until Friday the 26th of February, when the two-day exhibition closes, and the painting, Minnay, is sold in an auction starting at 2pm.

selfie with Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M1) “Minnay” proof, 2021, 38 x 28 cm, dye sublimation print on aluminum panel, installation view that could probably use a white-balance tbh [update: also, these dimensions are off, I realize now, and the actual facsimile object will match the Manet at 34.8 x 24.8 cm.]

It is in this window of possibility that I propose the Édouard Manet Facsimile Object (M1) “Minnay” as a contingency, an experiential hedge. It is a full-scale image of Minnay, printed on a sheet of aluminum. It is high-resolution and high-gloss. I taped the proof to the wall, and it looks extremely authentic. How does it compare to seeing or owning the painting? LITERALLY ALMOST NO ONE CAN SAY, CERTAINLY NOT ME, NOT YET.

an image of gerhard richter's painting Annunciation after Titian (1973), which is a blurry rendition of a red-robed angel alighting from the left, and a kneeling Mary on the right, set on a classically styled terrace, with beams of light between and around them, but printed and mounted between plexi and aluminum in an edition of 53
P12 “Annunciation after Titian”, 2015, 135 x 200 cm, they say it’s a facsimile object, but how can we tell?

When first asked by an interviewer if he painted five versions of a postcard of Titian’s Annunciation “to counteract the all-encompassing terror of reification,” Gerhard Richter was like, llol, “Maybe [it was] because I wanted to own such a beautiful Titian.” By making 53 full-scale facsimile objects of his Annunciation After Titian after it ended up in a museum, though, he managed to do both. These are the goals here, too. We will get or get through this.

In the event I do not get to Paris, and/or do not buy Minnay, but you do, I will offer this facsimile object to you in exchange for the painting. Then let us discourse on the differences, if indeed there are any.

In the mean time, everyone with a not-yet-zero-but-diminishing-daily probability of seeing or buying Minnay is invited to acquire their own facsimile object, to hedge their potential experiential loss. They will available from today until the moment the painting sells in Paris [tbc, but some point after 1400 CET on Feb. 26].

Each facsimile object will be accompanied by a hand-made certificate of authenticity, executed in watercolor on Arches at a scale identical to the facsimile object itself.

The COA will also bear the number of each facsimile object, based on the order orders are received. Without knowing the scale of our exposure, it feels important that the facsimile object be available to as many people who need it during These Trying Times, whether that number is 5 or 500 or 6,000 or zero. When the hammer drops in Paris, the facsimile object will become unavailable, and the number ordered, representing the full extent of our collective deprivations, will be known and executed.

The facsimile object is made using a dye sublimation process. Unless it is destroyed, it will last forever. But it will not look the same forever. Some dyes change when exposed to sunlight over a prolonged period of time. Let’s all just strive, though, to live lives and create a world where the status, condition, or ownership of this facsimile object is not a source of stress or inter-generational conflict. It is meant to mitigate loss, not foment it.

Anyway, the facsimile object is available for order below. The price is set at 0.1% of the painting’s probable reserve price. If you need a method other than paypal, let me know. If, after ordering one, you end up either seeing the painting IRL or buying it, also let me know. If you act in a timely manner, you can unwind your hedge, or keep the facsimile object as an historical document. Or, of course, we can exchange it for the painting and some discourse.

[2/26 update: the Manet was sold for EUR420,000, or EUR520,800 with premium, or USD$632,058, and so this offer is ended. For everyone except whoever bought it, of course. HMU]

Previously, related:
Show Me The Minnay
Manet Paints Dog
Gerhard Richter Facsimile Objects