Thursday, November 26, 2009

Portrait of the Artist as a Reprobate

Eric Hebborn (1934-1996)
as he portrayed himself in 1952

And here's how he earned his living
(much to the discomfort
of the reputable dealers
and the British Museum who
eventually bought this drawing
as if it were by Van Dyck.)

He was a superior mimic.

Not only could he make a great copy of historical work,
as he did with that "Corot" in my last post
(similar to what Classical musicians do when they perform),

But he could compose very good drawings
in the manner of other artists.

his "discoveries"
were weak, though passable.
(which would describe 90% of the Old Master drawings
that I've ever seen on exhibit)

But, incredibly enough,
sometimes he could really bring it off.

I've seen a lot of Cambiaso drawings in exhibits,
and many of them are not as good as this one.

He was also a pretty good sculptor.

If you're looking for it,
perhaps you can feel
the 20th Century
in his phony drawings.
(especially that "Van Dyck")

There's a kind of hopeless, despairing aggression,
like you might in Francis Bacon,
his contemporary.

But this poor lowlife
could just not imagine himself
as an honest man,
and as his autobiography tells us,
he took great pleasure
in fooling and cheating those
who might claim to be his betters.

Though, it must be noted,
that he never spent a day in jail,
indeed, legal charges were never brought against him,
allowing him, like Richard Nixon, to claim
"I am not a crook"

He even quotes Gombrich's "Art and Illusion":

"Logicians tell us, and they are not people who can be easily gainsaid, that the terms 'true' and 'false' can only be applied to statements, propositions. And whatever may be the usage of critical parlance, a picture is never a statement in that sense of the term. It can no more be true or false than a picture can be blue or green. Much confusion has been caused in aesthetics by ignoring this simple fact."

He spent the last 30 years of his life
living in Rome,
continuing to sell drawings which dealers
could then re-sell as the drawings of various old masters,
even after he had been "unmasked" in 1978.

Where, eventually,
he was found face down in an alley
with his head bashed in.


Blogger Robert said...

"Though, it must be noted,
that he never spent a day in jail,.." Is this the "silver lining" Chris?

Happy New Year.

I shall be back to blogging again soon so your 6 month "holiday" from me will be over. It's strange but I have found it hard to get back to all sorts of things, blogging being one of them.

January 10, 2010  
Blogger chris miller said...

Some addictions are hard to break!

But, still, I'm glad you'll be getting back to blogging (and sculpting, as well, I hope)

January 10, 2010  

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