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Behind the Scenes of the Art World

March 4, 2019

Behind the Scenes of the Art World

A special Interest Day led by David Phillips

Art galleries filled with reverential visitors present an image of order in the service of art, but then in the media we discover a very different art world, seething with greed and deception and mostly all about money. In this study day we go behind the scenes to look at both sides of the picture from three very different points of view.

Income and Inspiration: financial secrets of the masters

Buying prints at Ackerman’s in London


One thing you very rarely read about in museum information panels is how much the artist was paid to paint the picture you are looking at. Read artists’ letters and it turns out the most otherworldly of them were as preoccupied with pay as the rest of us. What’s more, if you’ve read their names on museum labels, chances are they did very nicely thank you – the impoverished Van Goghs and William Blakes were a tiny minority. But art was not just a production industry all the same, the money didn’t compromise all the magic – until, some would say, today.

Who Says? Can we trust the experts on good and bad in art?

Wedgewood Fake (on the left) Genuine (on the right)

The brilliant Fake or Fortune series has often shown up just how amateurish traditional art scholarship can be, though to be fair, sometimes because art history lacks the resources of TV. But no wonder art experts have often been lampooned, especially in notorious cases when art has come to court. A decades-long project to settle once and for all just which paintings were by Rembrandt has ended up as much a study of the difficulties of attribution as of Rembrandt. And are the critics right to tell us that Tracey Emin is so much more important than Edward Seago?

Adventures and Misadventures in Museums

A Museum picture store

What really goes on behind those doors in museums marked “staff only”? Drawing on my own experiences and those of colleagues, we end the day with a light-hearted review of some curatorial highs and lows, from being given the keys to the whole of the British Museum’s English watercolour collection, to being questioned by the CID as a suspect in a major art fraud.


March 4, 2019
Event Category:


The Arts Society New Forest


Brockenhurst Village Hall
Highwood Road
Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7RY United Kingdom
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01590 622580