INFLUENTIAL ARTIST: Tom Keating 1917 - 1984

Updated: Nov 16, 2020

Tom Keating was an anarchist in his forging life, against the large sums of money invested in the dead while the living artists could never make any money. He would write obscene messages under his forgeries or write THIS IS FAKE in large letters in lead paint which would show up if ever x-rayed.

The ex-master forger created a series on Channel 4 television in the early eighties on the Old Masters, and the techniques they used to create their masterpieces as early as the 1400s.

My favourite stunt of his was putting a layer of glycerine on the canvas before he painted the forgery, so if it was ever cleaned the whole painting would dissolve. Eventually he was caught by forging too many of the same subject by the same artist.

Recreating relatively quick mock-ups of artworks in the style of Rembrandt, Turner, Degas and so on, he demonstrated some techniques which I’m slowly trying to apply to my painting style. I remember watching the series when I was young, particularly the techniques, such as the red bole underpainting, and the green underpainting on Titian.

Re-watching it now has brought out a new excitement in my painting – treating painting very differently to drawing and throwing as much bravery as I can at the canvas.

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