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Remember Dafen

The New York Times seems to have a piece a day about the legal/illegal divide in art.  Today, it’s a feature on Ken Perenyi, a master forger of famous paintings and painters, who seems to have an outsized belief in his own singular skill.  Irony alert:  Perenyi copies for a living, and he claims to be unique.  Dare I say – original?

Er, no.

Art historians and copyright specialists are acquianted with a Chinese village called Dafen, where painters produce thousands of copies of famous paintings and painters per year, many of which are exported to the US.  (My favorites are the copies of Warhol.)  The Times itself wrote about Dafen way back in 2005.  Der Spiegel published this feature in 2006.  The village is either the hub of the universe with respect to copyright infringement in visual art, or a massive challenge to modern sensibilities about what is original, and valuable, about fine art.  Or both.