More Fakes – or Should I Call Them “Reproductions”?

Last month I saw an exhibition at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art entitled “Fakes“. The centrepiece of the show was a collection of paintings by the Dutch forger Henricus Antonius Han Van Meergeren, who in the 1940’s painted several “Vermeer” paintings that fooled the experts and even Herman Göring bought one. Van Meegeren was uncovered and tried and to prove he had painted the forgeries, he produced another. His paintings are, however, so good that they are collectors’ items in their own right. The exhibition chose to illustrate the diffuse boundary between a copy, a reproduction and a forgery. There was even a listening station where one could listen and compare George Harrison‘s “My Sweet Lord” with The Chiffon‘s “He’s So Fine“, which Harrison was judged to have plagiarised.

Now I’m not going to suggest I’m in van Meegeren‘s league, but I do like a bit of reproduction… They had to give up trying to make a catalogue of Andy Warhol‘s prints as there were so many reproductions and fakes that judging which should be included and which should not proved impossible. There are many artists who have been “inspired” by Warhol’s art, ranging from Steve Kaufmann, who had worked with Warhol at The Factory to Elaine Sturtevant, who painted Warhol images from memory. As a collector of Warhol‘s record cover art, I realised that there were some rare covers that I was never going to be able to afford (Moondog‘s “The Story of Moondog“, John Wallowitch‘s “The Other Side of John Wallowitch” and a couple of rare bootleg albums). So, if I wanted them in my collection–and the solution seemed easy–just make reproductions!

I started in 2013 when I decided to produce a set of covers of Warhol‘s 1963 “Giant Size $1.57 Each“. The nearest I had come to a real one was when, in 2008,  I tipped Guy Minnebach off about one being auctioned in Japan. His has been exhibited in several exhibitions. Warhol had spraypainted record covers in four colours; red, green, orange and yellow and then silkscreened the “Giant Size $1,57 Each” on top. He also silkscreened onto plain white covers. So I bought a batch of record covers and the cans of spraypaint, and set to work. I prepared 50 covers and took a course in silkscreening to finish the job.

There were several other covers I couldn’t afford, including the Lew WhiteMelodic Magic” and “Waltzes by Johann Strauss, Jr.” So I bought card of about the correct thickness, photocopied the cover art and the rear cover texts and glued them all together. Later I realised that I could get a more accurate reproduction if I took an RCA Camden EP sleeve (luckily all Camden EPs have generic back covers, so I could take just about any Camden EP cover for these projects), removed the front cover image with sticky tape and stuck the photocopied slick over where the original picture had been. Then I had a bit of luck when I bought a copy of the Lew WhiteMelodic Magic” EP (without a cover) for $3.86 to complete the set. I’m still  looking for a copy of the Strauss Waltzes disc.

The third rarity that I wanted to make was the incredibly rare (perhaps only one copy exists) “Night Beat” box. There was a picture of in Paul Maréchal‘s book so I set to work. I bought several RCA Victor boxes of EPs and made up a cover slick in Photoshop. I was well pleased with what I thought was a perfect reproduction. However, when the original went on show at the “Warhol on Vinyl” exhibition at the Cranbrook Art Museum I found out that I had not made a true copy. The box’s spine should have the set’s title and the NBC logo rather than the dots I had used.

Back to the drawingboard! Step One: I needed more RCA boxes, and luckily I found a seller in America who had six for sale cheap. Step Two: I needed a photo of the spine of the genuine box to copy. Here fellow WCCC member Niklas Lindberg came to my rescue and mailed over a picture.

Step Three: More photoshopping. Step Four: Off to my local printer. I told him the box’s front cover image had to be 19 cms in height. He duly produced prints with the image 19 cms high. But these were too large (mea culpa!), so he made a second run with 5% smaller images. These turned out to be just too small, so I had to ask him to print a third copy 3% larger than the second printing. Finally the size was dead on.

The print on A3 paper as it came from the printer.

Step Five:  Cutting the prints to fit the box required some practice, which I eventually mastered.

The cover print cut and folded ready for gluing.

Step Six: Gluing the slicks to the boxes. Thank heavens for spray glue!

I got home from the printer at 6.10 p.m. and had nine boxes completed by 9.30 p.m.!

Completed “Night Beat” boxes.

During the day I also managed to make mock covers of Moondog‘s “The Story of Moondog” and John Wallowitch‘s “The Other Side of John Wallowitch” as well as a new version of Banksy‘s Capoeira Twins promo cover for “4 x 3“. And I made a cover of Peter Blake‘s “Vintage Blake” print from 2012.

All in all a very productive day!.

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