Authenticity in painting: Remarks on Michael Fried's art history

Critical Inquiry 31 (3):575-598 (2005)
Abstract
My topic is authenticity in or perhaps as painting, not the authenticity of paintings; I know next to nothing about the problem of verifying claims of authorship. I am interested in another kind of genuineness and fraudulence, the kind at issue when we say of a person that he or she is false, not genuine, inauthentic, lacks integrity, and, especially when we say he or she is playing to the crowd, playing for effect, or is a poseur. These are not quite moral distinctions (no one has a duty to be authentic), but they are robustly normative appraisals, applicable even when such falseness is not a case of straight hypocrisy but of lack of self-knowledge or of self-deceit. (A person can be quite sincere and not realize the extent of her submission to the other’s expectations and demands.) This sort of appraisal also has a long history in post-Rousseauist reflections on the dangers of uniquely modern forms of social dependence, and they are prominent worries in the modern novel.
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