Faithful followers of this blog know that I’ve been in art-inspired mood lately, because of an ongoing sculpture festival.
His story in turn reminded me of a classic Swedish art con:
In 1964 an art exhibition was held in the Swedish city of Göteborg. The work of a previously unknown French painter, Pierre Brassau, attracted much attention.
One art critic wrote: "Pierre Brassau paints with powerful strokes but also with clean determination. His brush strokes twist with a furious fastidiousness on the canvas ... Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer."
A private collector bought one of Brassau’s works for $90 (remember that was 1964, so meant a lot more money than today).
Not everyone was quite of the same opinion, though. Another art critic wrote: "Only an ape could have done this."
And yes - Pierre Brassau did turn out to be an ape. He was in fact a chimpanzee named Peter, living at a Swedish zoo.
Behind the prank was a journalist who had persuaded a zoo keeper to give brush and paints to the chimp. The purpose was to test whether critics could tell the difference between true avant-garde modern art and the work of a monkey.
What about you? Do you think you would be able to tell the difference? Here is your chance – a fun link I came across while checking up on my facts…
QUIZ: An artist, or an ape?
I’m proud to say, I actually scored 100%. But I also have to admit that with one of them, I was initially in doubt…!