Kenny Schachter "Happy"
2 Colour Screenprint on Somerset Satin Tub Sized 410gsm Paper.
Edition of 50
Signed and numbered verso by the artist.
Words from Kenny Schachter I will never forget reading of a Dutch art lover more than a century ago, working the entirety of his life to afford an oil painting by Vincent van Gogh. After toiling for decades, the time came when he was able to purchase such an artwork and proudly hung it above his fireplace only to discover, upon showing off the work to an acknowledged van Gogh scholar, that it was indeed fake. Devastated, the collector discarded the canvas in his attic. Upon his death, the painting was determined to be authentic.
The text that comprises the work “Happy” was inspired by the story above, which for me became a sort of twisted morality tale, what is the value of genuineness vs. the perception of what is real? If you think something is what it purports to be is that enough? And vice versa. Can authorship be fictionalised, a matter of conjecture, or even a metaphysical conundrum? What is or isn’t actual if you are looking at an object before your eyes?
The Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS), was fully aware of the unresolved authenticity issues swirling around Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi painting, like a violent desert sandstorm, before spending a staggering $450m at Christie’s, in 2017, on the 26 inch painting. The ultimate authorship of the painting remains hotly disputed to this day; yet, such questions of uncertainty certainly didn’t get in the way of the unrestrained bidding by MBS, who, with one wave of his paddle, sent the work skyrocketing in a $30m increment higher than the previous bid en route to unchartered, nose-bleed territory, all but unheard of in auction room practice.
The Prince didn’t seem to care whether da Vinci alone painted the entirety of the work, or merely Salvator’s finger, or even just a curl of his hair, nor did an adoring public that literally stood in lines snaking around a Manhattan square block outside Christie’s every day during public viewings prior to the sale. The intrigue and controversy, stoked by the unprecedented sum the painting fetched, further fuelled by the Sony film “The Lost Leonardo”, only continues to add to the myth.
In the present era of post-fake news, mind-boggling social media hyperbole and fabrications, not to mention photography derived from artificial intelligence, we are in the midst of a time where the will or desire for truth has been all but abandoned. It’s no longer an issue of not knowing sufficing or substituting for the “real thing”, it’s more a case of people not bothering to care. In the age of AI and synthetic photography, fake art has become the new real. Literally.
This print release coincides with the artist's Los Angeles solo show “I Object!” at the Pacific Design Centre, Feb 13th - Apr 6th, 2024.