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Detecting fake art

Monday, June 15th, 2009 | Author:

With the advancement in technology, detecting fake art has become possible to a large extent. Over the course of time, the pigments of an old painting become very hard and shrink as well due to which some fine cracks are visible in the painting. These are called as craquelcure. A fake art work however may not dry and crack, like a real old work of art. It depends on the thickness and the treatment of the pigment that is applied. Environmental conditions, history of handling the painting, transportation and restoration of the painting are furnished as a record especially in case of old paintings.


Non destructive techniques that use microscope, radiography and chemical analysis and dating techniques are used to detect an artwork. Even a ten thousand year old art work can be detected for fake art using what is known as the radio carbon dating to measure the age of the painting. Infrared and x-ray photography can detect signatures that cannot be seen by the naked eye. X-ray diffraction is also used to analyze components that make up the artist’s paints. X-ray fluorescence can reveal the artist’s finger prints and the metals present in a sculpture or in the composition of the paints that are used in the painting or the sculpture. 


Another technique known as digital authentication: This technique breaks down a picture into collection of more basic images called as sub bands. These are analyzed to determine the texture by assigning a frequency to each sub band. In this way, there are many new techniques that are being used to detect fake artwork.