Artists Who’d Rob You Blind


In 1946, after being imprisoned in Transylvania under suspicion of being the homosexual lover of a British spy, and subsequently becoming interred in and successfully escaping from a German concentration camp for being a Jew, Hungarian artist Elmyr de Hory sold a reproduction of a Picasso drawing to a British friend who mistook it for an original. So began De Hory’s long career as an art forger, although de Hory of course is not his real name, and the preceding story is possibly a fake as well. Years later, Orson Welles made a film about de Hory, F for Fake, starring a forged Modigliani and the writer Clifford Irving, who was revealed to have forged a Howard Hughes autobiography. Later Pierre Huyghe purchased one of de Hory’s Modiglianis, which will be shown as Huyghe’s contribution to “Blind Cut,” a group show that opens tomorrow at Marlborough Chelsea, curated by Jonah Freeman and Vera Neykov.

The rabbit hole of Huyghe’s Modigliani is typical of the work in “Blind Cut,” which investigates themes of fiction and deception. With work from 1919 to the present day, this sprawling survey features imagined languages, personas, cities, and objects includes gems like the first edition of Kurt Schwitter’s 1919 Dadaist poem Anna Blume, original prints from the mid-century, utopic-minded Italian architecture firm Superstudio, and Adam McEwen’s darkly gorgeous, contemporary graphite impressions of wooden chipboard. “The older material is not outdated,” Neykov told Interview, “but guides the newer work.”

The phrase “blind cut” describes a trick by a stage magician who appears to but does not actually shuffle a deck of cards. Similarly dissimulating are Claire Fontaine’s box cutters hidden inside quarters (for airplane-bound extremists and saboteurs), and Mike Kelley’s rephotographed scenes from found high school yearbooks—like a black metal fan giving a fist-up salute while riding a horse. So bizarre they are almost unbelievable, Kelley’s pictures are the progeny of a long line of playful theatrics, the grandfather of whom, Marcel Broodthaers, is also included in the show.

A catalogue will be published with new contributions from recent memory’s most notorious fakers James Frey and JT LeRoy, among many others. It will be available Jan 27. “Blind Cut” is on view through February 18.