The written word is power – it is truth as old as the world. In April 1844, in a new York letter to “the Sun” came out a report, relacjonujący course of the first flight across the Atlantic in a balloon. This article was written by none other than Edgar Allan PoE. No one for a moment doubted that the information was correct. She appeared in the newspaper! Readers, apparently, laid siege to the editors, wishing to get a room with this historic material. The problem is, the story was just a joke…
It’s a small world and these types are completely caught up in it
Exactly 154 years later, also in April, another writer William Boyd, published a biography of niche American artist. Nat Tate was supposed to be an abstract expressionist whose most creative period was the 50s. The artist, though respected in the medium, never achieved much success. At the age of 30, he went to Europe, where he returned in a state of extreme depression. The works of artists he had the opportunity to see there suggested that he would never reach their level. He came up with a plan. Bought and took (translating the necessary amendments) almost all of his work, which he was able to sell and… destroy it. Therefore, to date, only a few of his paintings have survived. Having completed his intention, the artist committed suicide, rushing from the ferry flowing to Staten island (part of new York).
It’s an extraordinarily tragic and sad story, it’s – just as the PoE’s joke is inflated-pure fiction! So why waste the biography of an artist who never existed? The whole story goes back to the roots of a certain meeting. William Boyd was a Board member of the world-recognized art magazine “Modern Painters”. Just like… David Bowie (few people know, but the great passion of this very original artist was contemporary art). During one of the meetings of the Council Boyd-a writer who among art historians felt insecure-joked that as his contribution to the work of the magazine can come up with some artist.
Bowie picked up the idea and suggested that the writer had created his entire biography. A free, playful conversation soon after turned into a thoughtful plan that was supposed to be a problem for people from the art world. And it happened: Boyd wrote a book, which was published in the publication of the publishing house, operating within the magazine “Modern Painters”. A photo of Nathan Tate, collected in his biography was presented by strangers, taken from the private collection of Boyd. The writer also wrote several paintings of the artist presented in the book. Gore Vidal and John Richardson (Picasso biographer) were invited to participate in the whole hoax, who confirmed the whole story by telling about their meetings with the artist.
And so it came to be
It remains only to try to get good advertising. David Bowie took care of it, of course. On the occasion of the premiere of the book, which not coincidentally coincided with the celebration of April fools day, the musician released a huge party at the new York Studio of Jeff Koons How David Bowie and William Boyd hoaxed the art world. Appeared on it celebrities from the world of art, literature, large and small screen. Bowie during this evening, read several passages from the biography of NAT Tate and… the deception machine has started.
Given that the hall was attended by honored art critics, Boyd was expecting an immediate demaskacji. But nothing of the sort happened. Who would admit to such a familiar company that does not know the niche of the new York artist? And Nat Tate because it sounds oddly familiar… (Boyd’s brilliant operation: the artist’s first and last name originated from the Union of the names of two of London’s largest museums: the national Gallery and Tate Modern.)
However, not without scandal. A few days later, when the Scam surfaced, the American media promised very negative pronunciation of the article. Journalists assumed that the British (as Boyd, like Bowie, originally from the British Isles) deliberately wanted to humiliate the American world of art. The review will roughly have to explain that this was not the purpose of this concept.
In one interview, he argued that the goals of the project were nature, rather philosophical than purely bizarre – although, of course, this was the beginning. He argued that the idea with the invention of NAT Tate was ” a well-founded game with the concept of reality and fiction. It’s like crossing certain boundaries and checking how far you can move them. Deliberate and conscious, almost manipulation of our verification process.”
The premiere of the book “Nat Tate: American artist 1928-1960”
Writers always, more or less consciously, interfere with the help of fantasy into reality. On the other hand, readers often want to believe that what they read about is true. If in the 19th century in London after the death of Sherlock Holmes – a fictional hero – people could wear black ribbons as a sign of mourning (as some sources claim), what, therefore, can not give faith to the tragic history of NAT Tate?
And why can’t they hang his “miracle of the survivor” image on the wall? And this was sold for a price of more than 7 thousand pounds during the auction at the famous London gallery Sotheby’s in London in 2011. We live in a world where truth and fiction mingle with each other every day. Confidence is a luxury you can only dream of. And if they say that history is written by the winners, can we be sure that the knowledge of textbooks is not just a perfectly created fantasy? It turns out that what we take for truth is only a matter of choice. So why not believe in NAT Tate?