In 1957 Robert Rauschenberg made Factum II, which took its place as the second member of a duo that included Factum I, also painted that same year. Now in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, Factum II is separated from its twin, which resides in the warmer climes of Los Angeles, at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
To say that II was painted after I would be incorrect. The two canvases were painted simultaneously, with Rauschenberg attending to one and then to the other. We should note, however, that he did not replicate his actions and materials in order to make the same painting, or even really to make two different paintings; rather, Rauschenberg seems to have painted the works simultaneously so as to render difference itself, to render difference as an inescapable, indeed necessary, goal of creation, artistic or otherwise. [Jonathan T.D. Neil on Rauschenberg’s Factums]
By highlighting our aesthetic and emotional tendencies for problem-solving and resolution the artist both affirms and restrains the narrative power of painting. Through this technique of mirroring or doubling an image, the artist continues the philosophical exploration of difference and repetition. His occasional Tondi and petits tableaux works, with their surprise blank halves, subvert our expectations, and further emphasise the efficient simplicity of the unique pictorial game being played.
Piffaretti began developing his method in the 1970s, settling on the central mark and division method in 1986. Conceived initially as a way for the artist to escape the painted gesture and expressionist influences, the procedure is not so much a critique of abstract painting but a comment on the concept of originality. For Piffaretti, the subject of his paintings is the process. His objective is to remove any trace of subjectivity through these meta-pictures. [Lisson Gallery press release for Bernard Piffaretti]
“But Mr. Baldwin said that something about the painting always gave him unease. The colors weren’t quite the same. It smelled, somehow, new. In fact, he said, just a few months ago he discovered that he had not bought the painting he pined for. Instead, he said, for reasons that remain disputed, Ms. Boone sent him another version of the painting. He claims she passed it off as the original.” [Lawsuit between Alec Baldwin and Mary Boone Gallery]
Halfway into the film, French director François Reichenbach, whose documentary footage on de Hory and his biographer Philip Irving was used by Welles, tells a story that coincidentally sums up the deceptive nature of F for Fake. De Hory had, supposedly, sold Reichenbach a few fake Modigliani’s, which the latter then sold for double the price. Unaware of that, Hory offered to reimburse the director with a check that turned out to be false. “A false check for a false painting,” adds Welles amusedly. Deliberately deceiving and drawing our attention to one aspect of the narrative while planting in our minds, like a cuckoo’s egg, another, perhaps more profound one, Welles builds his hall of mirrors in which concepts of fakery and originality bounce off one another as reflections.
“It’s pretty. But is it rare? Lots of oysters, only a few pearls. Rarity. The chief cause and encouragement of fakery and phoniness, in everything, even what we’re given to eat,” comments Welles on our innate infatuation with exclusivity. But would the endlessly engaging conundrum exist without the presence of the so-called authorities on taste? Where would the debate stand, if there were no claims of infallible judgment on art and authorship? [Lidija Grozdanic on F For Fake]