In these terrible times, one must take pleasure where one can. My latest find is a story in the Arts section of today's NY TIMES. It seems that for some years now, an art forger named Mark A. Landis has been going around the country, sometimes claiming to be a Catholic priest, donating to museums and art galleries paintings that he represents as by genuine, minor artists, but which are actually his forgeries. He asks nothing in return, and does not even accept documentation for tax deduction purposes. Sometimes the museums pretty quickly discover that the paintings are forgeries. Sometimes not.
All he seems to want is for his paintings to be hung in galleries and museums. Who can blame him? When shapeless scribbles and blank canvasses sell for millions and are oohed and aahed at by supposed art experts, why shouldn't his genuinely carefully painted works be accepted as genuine?
I am, I openly acknowledge, something of a philistine when it comes to modern art. I do not even like mature Picassos or Pollack dribble paintings, let alone their secondary imitators. The art world is now on to Landis, who has disappeared from view. But sooner or later, the authorities [both law enfofrcement and artistic] will catch up with him, and then they will undoubtedly try to charge him with some crime.
I think I shall pull several of my unpublished essays from my file cabinet and present them to Harvard as hitherto unknown lesser efforts by some minor philosopher. Perhaps I will present them in honor of Willard van Orman Quine, my old teacher. How else am I going to shoehorn my way into the Houghton Rare Book Library?