Hoaxes Throughout History
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The first day of April, when it's traditional to play pranks, hoaxes, and practical jokes.
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As the price of art has increased, the forging of art has increased.
A satirical art hoax is essentially a bait-and-switch type of hoax. A critic is presented with a work for evaluation. If the critic then indicates that the work displays any kind of talent or skill, the hoaxer reveals that the work came from an unexpected source that couldn't have had such skill. For instance, it might have been the work of an animal such as a donkey or chimpanzee. Or a six-year-old child. Or perhaps the hoaxer himself created it, having purposefully made it as bad as possible. Whatever the case may be, the implication is that the critic is a fraud, unable to discern true ability. This type of hoax became popular in the early 20th century as art became increasingly abstract, leading to a growing gap between what leading art critics were labeling as worthy art, and the older, more traditional concept of what art should be. Similar satirical hoaxes are also common in literature. More…
One of the dominant themes in modern hoaxes. People often see in hoaxes evidence that our culture lacks authenticity. That events are cynically manufactured. That everything is fake. More…
An absurd art hoax is a hoax in which a completely unexpected object (or non-object) is presented to the public as a work of art. Something that seems absurd to describe as art, such as a blank canvas, a pile of trash, or nothing at all (invisible art). The point of the hoax is to generate a reaction of shock and disbelief, and provoke people into questioning how such a thing could possibly be considered art. So it's a seemingly absurd redefinition of art. Or a seemingly absurd extension of the boundaries of art. And eventually it's revealed to be a tongue-in-cheek joke. The hoaxer doesn't really imagine such a thing to be art. But, of course, such hoaxes explicitly raise the question of what is art. Who gets to decide what art is. And while often the crazy art is revealed by the hoaxer to be a joke. Just as often artists will continue to insist that their crazy thing (or what much of the public considers crazy) really is art. This type of hoax pokes fun at what gets considered to be art. More…
An increasingly common motivation for hoaxes. Elaborate deceptions are revealed to be artistic endeavors, with the artist hoping to explore themes of authenticity, or the blurred line between fact and fiction. More…
This six-volume biographical encyclopedia, published between 1887 and 1889, was one of the first and most definitive works of its kind in America, containing information about thousands of people (some famous, some obscure) in American history. But thirty years after its publication, researchers discovered that a number of the people described in the work were fictitious. Over the years, more and more false entries have been found — to date over 200 of them. But due to the enormity of the work it's doubtful that all of the false information it contains will ever be identified. More…
On June 20, 1977, a documentary titled Alternative 3 aired in England, on ITV. It revealed to viewers the existence of a secret plan by the governments of the world to create a Noah's Ark colony of humans on Mars in anticipation of a looming environmental catastrophe that would soon make the Earth uninhabitable. The earnestness of the show's delivery convinced many that it was real. However, it was intended as a mock documentary, originally intended to be aired on April Fool's Day. More…