“Art is a lie. A lie that makes us realize the truth.”
- Pablo Picasso
This is a film about trickery, fraud and lies and the world of deception in art market…all comes with signature impression of Master Orson Welles. Told in multiple narratives including enigmatic Welles himself in the garb of magician; its an honest attempt based on solid proofs to scrutinize the real truth behind the world of art forgery. It has brilliant fast paced editing ahead of its time, another signature style of Welles films.
Welles encounters us with the world’s biggest art forger of 20th century, Elmyr de Horay, a failed artist whom the world didn’t take seriously later proved as the master art forger. He was ready to accept the challenge to have expert opinions about his fake paintings of all great post-impressionist painters ranging from Modigliani to Matisse. We also meet his biographer Clifford Irving. Then its Welles himself, who made confession about his role of the faking in art showing us early years of his struggling career from a painter to stage and radio and at finally as an auteur of world cinema who made classic ‘Citizen Kane’ turning a real tycoon Howarrd Hughes into a newspaper giant Kane. In the final last part we meet Oja Kodar, a beautiful girlfreind of Welles with a scoop of Picasso and his 22 inspired paintings, its complex mystery showing us the nexus between beauty of woman and creation of art. Until like magician Welles appeared on screen and revealed us the reality of what you’re watching. What a brilliant end!!!
F for Fake is lesser known but again a master work and it raised many pertinent questions about the art and the very notion of art’s expertise. Who’s more expert here? Is it an expert or is it a faker who is an expert making even experts in delusion? Can art forgery admire as an art itself? If we believe a painting to be good, aesthetically, is it any less good aesthetically when we later learn that it is "merely" a copy of a Matisse, or a fake Picasso? The work itself didn't change, only our background knowledge has changed. Is our background knowledge part of the art object that we're judging?
Another less appreciated masterpiece from Master…Highly recommended to all Welles fans.