A 1954 drawing by Andy Warhol, titled Fairies, has been appropriated into a new work by the Brooklyn-based collective MSCHF (that’s mischief, for the uninitiated) as part of the collective’s Museum of Forgeries project.
The collective says that their work—titled Possibly Real Copy Of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol (2021)—is a series of 1,000 identical artworks. They are all definitely by MSCHF, and also all possibly by Andy Warhol. Any record of which piece within the set is the original has been destroyed.
The original Warhol was scanned and 999 copies were redrawn by a robotic arm. According to a video on the collective's website, each copy then underwent a degradation process before being authenticated as Possibly Real Copy Of ‘Fairies’ by Andy Warhol by MSCHF, then shuffled together and sold for $250 each. The drawing was supposedly purchased in 2016 for $8,125.
“The capital-A Art World is far more concerned with authenticity than aesthetics, as proven time and again by conceptual works sold primarily as paperwork and documentation,” the collective says. “By forging Fairies en masse, we obliterate the trail of provenance for the artwork. Though physically undamaged, we destroy any future confidence in the veracity of the work. By burying a needle in a needlestack, we render the original as much a forgery as any of our replications.”
The collective adds that the copies—or “more accurately the entire performance of copying and selling” Faries—belongs to them. Therefore, there aren’t 1000 copies of a Warhol out there, but rather 1000 co-owners of a single work by the collective. Given that Warhol embraced all things mass produced, one wonders whether he would raise a milkshake to the new work.