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Weekend Reading List: Will AI Soon Be the Best Forgers?

Misidentifying Van Gogh, the missing female rock stars, and misusing interns: what to read this weekend

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RePaint technology reproduces an oil painting with an exceptional degree of colour accuracy. Courtesy: MIT CSAIL

RePaint technology reproduces an oil painting with an exceptional degree of colour accuracy. Courtesy: MIT CSAIL

‘The UK bears the dubious distinction of having produced an astonishing number of successful forgers’, writes Noah Charney. However, new artificial intelligence developed by researchers at MIT might steal the crown from the British: this week we learnt that artificial intelligence is being used to help recreate lost masterpieces. We revisit Charney’s piece on the history of art fakes, and the technology being developed to detect it.

The Met have apparently forgotten it’s 2018: an upcoming rock and roll show has only included one woman in the line-up (although the full list is yet to be announced). In response to this age-old problem in art exhibitions: ‘How is this still happening?’.

Over in Amsterdam, experts attempting the tricky task of identifying a young man in a photograph have finally solved a case of mistaken identity. A photograph of a blue-eyed boy, long thought to be Vincent van Gogh has now been named as his brother, Theo. We’re thinking about other instances of twins and doppelgangers in art. William Viney’s 2015 piece cleverly surveys a few examples: ‘Born and co-created, ancient and modern, twins are malleable guides in efforts to map bodies, identities, histories and biographies.’

Unpaid internships are ubiquitous in the arts we learnt this week – in news as surprising as night following day. Read Bedwyr Williams’ satirical short story on ‘one of those most fleeting of art beings’: ‘Intern: a word which in a busy studio or gallery can be used in lieu of a name. As in, ‘I’ll send the intern out’, or, ‘the intern could pick them up on the way in.’ Or, as on that fateful day three months ago when my heart shrank between beats, ‘the intern has fallen down the lift shaft!’

Debates around restitution continued this week, after French president Emmanuel Macron agreed to return stolen statues to Benin. We look at Cody Delistraty’s piece on why Macron’s 2017 pledge to return African artefacts ignores deeper colonial injustices. For broader context, read Aruna D’Souza’s piece on Black Panther (2018), the Brooklyn Museum’s white curator of African art and institutions facing calls to decolonize their collections.

We ran a piece on Steve McQueen’s Widows this week, which was released earlier this month. We look back to the lauded director’s first feature film, Hunger (2008) as well as his most celebrated, 12 Years a Slave (2013)

The art world mourned the death of two prominent figures this week: giant of minimalist sculpture, Robert Morris, and idiosyncratic director and cinematographer Nicholas Roeg. We look back at Mark Prince’s review of a Morris retrospective, which reveals ‘the artist was never the cut-and-dried Minimalist of legend’; and finally, we revisit a 2013 interview with Roeg on the eve of his 85th birthday: ‘I like timelessness. You know, our idea of the future and the past is quite a recent one. We’re now advancing at great speed in terms of understanding our tiny microcosm of the universe, but doors are still being opened to us the whole time.’

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