By Adrian Darmon
The controversial debate launched by Florida artist and researcher Gary Arseneau concerning posthumous bronze casts of modern sculptures seems likely to prove futile especially as copies in the domain of bronzes have been commonly produced for centuries.
«Petite Danseuse de Quatorze Ans»
Gary Arseneau has claimed that most bronze sculptures by Degas, Barye and many other artists, which are being sold on the art market, are nothing else than fakes since these were cast posthumously. He added that Degas only produced wax models during his lifetime before they were made in bronze after his death and asked whether the artist would have given his consent for such process.
Arseneau has gone as far as describing posthumous works as fakes. The fact is not so simple as it would be in the case of paintings whereby works by are considered as genuine only if they have been produced by the artists themselves. The problem regarding bronzes is quite different and utterly intricate.
As a specialist in the history of bronzes I must confess that it is extremely difficult to determine whether a piece was conceived during the lifetime of an artist and whether he lent his hand during the casting process.