‘Hoax’ is another term for canard or false report describing something incorrect that is formed believable. They are exhibited through newspapers, television, radio, internet and other forms of social media.  Without the use of these media and even technology, hoaxes would not be able to be spread and accepted. A hoax is used against the background of different intentions: to make people aware of something, as a joke or for a real purpose. Art hoaxes share a similar purpose. Some seem to be created solely to prove a certain group or movement incorrect  while others seem to be created simply to force the public to question reality.

Darko Maver, made up person, 1998

Darko Maver by Eva and Franco Mattes, 1998-1999

Two artists invented the artist Darko Maver. His work presented very gruesome and realistic models of murder victims. He exposed the brutality of war in the Balkans to the world. Many of the photographs and models shown were reenactments of actual deaths found on the internet.

“In 1998 we invented a reclusive artist named Darko Maver. His life was set in former Yugoslavia and heavily influenced by the ongoing war.”

Only one year later, they had Darko Maver “die” in the Podgorica prison during the NATO bombing. The photo of his death circulated widely on the media. But actually, the photo was actually taken in their garret in the center of Bologna.

Soon after, the artists publicly claimed they had invented Darko’s life and his artworks.

Their message was to show that this shocking art was heavily absorbed by the market, real violence and tragedy happening was being ignored by the media and the world.

work-maver-ecce-homo-700x585Maver’s work, 1998

work-maver-maver-dead-1024x661 Maver’s Death, 1999

maver-portrait-525x700 Darko Maver, 1998work-maver-press-1024x682Article’s about Maver’s death, 1999

JR Boronali, aka Aliboron’s Sunset 1910

“Sunset over the Adriatic” was exhibited at the Salon des Indépendants in Paris in March 1910. It was praised by the critics and recieved an offer of 400Francs from an art collector. It was said to have been done by JR Boronali, proponent of a new school of painting called “excessivism.”

However, days later, art critic Roland Dorgelès came out with the truth saying he came up with the idea to have a donkey “paint” the drawing with a brush tied to his tail. He did it as a way to play a joke on his Impressionist painter friends


JR Boronali, 1910


The Three Modigliani Heads, 1989


Pietro Luridiana, Michele Ghelarducci and Pierfrancesco Ferrucci, 1989

Pietro Luridiana, Michele Ghelarducci and Pierfrancesco Ferrucci, 1989

In the city of Livorno, there was a canal which artist Amedeo Modiglian was rumored to have dumped a few of his sculptures in 1909. In 1989, the city spent $35,000 on the project and eventually came up with three sculpted heads. The heads were appraised by experts and concluded as legit giving them a 1.5 million dollar value.

Unfortunately for the city, a few days later the truth came out. One of the heads was actually made by three university students with a screwdriver and a drill (with video documentation of the work), and the other two made my another former art student Angelo Froglia. Their reasons for doing this, they said:  “to reveal the false values of art critics and the mass media.”

MortgageHippo Hippo Hoax, 2014

A video was put on youtube that gathered a lot of attention about a hippo spotting in the chicago river. Two weeks later another video of the same hippo in a different location in the chicago river was posted as well which caused more of a stir.

Many people were skeptical of the hippo being in the river, and the chicago police later came out with a statement that there were no reports of any sightings of the wild animal and was unlikely the hippo could survive in the water’s cold climate. The video still circled social media.

But eventually, MortgageHippo came out with another video and statement providing the hippo was a hoax and a publicity stunt. Used to promote their company.

The hippo sighting

The Men Who Conned the World, 1976

Doug Bower And Dave Chorley, 1976


The crop cirlce Hoaxers that started a world wide cultural phenomena.

They created their first “flying saucer nest” in a wheat field in Wiltshire, England, in 1976. At the time, the artist and his friend had no idea what shock their creation would create on the world. From then on believers and nonbelievers would contemplate the legitimacy of these other- worldly markings in the fields.

In 1991 they came out with their story and explaination. They demonstrated with their simple instruments to show how they created the perfect circular patterns. However, there still are “circle experts,” with authority in the field of circle studies of these kind that don’t believe the men were capable of it.

Many people still believe they were created by spacecraft and that these men are hoaxing to seem like the creators of such a work. It becomes a hoax within a hoax.

The question remains, who is hoaxing who?

Video of Doug and Dave sharing their story through the Today Newspaper

Hoax is Art, 2009

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 11.28.23 AM

Image of UFO’s Over Haiti by Barzolff814, 2009


“UFO Over Haiti” video that received 3 million views the day that it was posted on YouTube posted by Barzolff814, a 35-year-old French creator, a professional animator.

He made the videos as research for a feature-length film he was working on and when it became so popular, he decided to explore the idea further.

He went on to develop it into an art movement “Realitism,”that he believes is an “artistic and philosophical movement at the root of this questioning of reality.”

Overall, the website he created is planned to be a movement that uses hoaxes as a new media to reach the public. It also involves the public into the art work in a way.

Museum of art Fakes, Present


The Museum of Art Fakes


A museum in Germany that only shows false paintings copied from original works. They explain the legitimacy of art fakes and describe the line between illegal and legal production, display and sale of the fakes. As long as the art isn’t being displayed at the original or isn’t forged as the original artist, the artwork is legal. The work cannot be sold with false information about its originality. Also it is illegal to forge verification certificates.


Copy of Rafael’s Madonna in the Belvedere, year unknown