Fake Picassos Mona Admits Ladies Lounge Paintings Forged by Kirsha Kaechele

Fake Picassos Mona Admits Ladies Lounge Paintings Forged by Kirsha Kaechele

Tasmania’s Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) made international headlines last month when it relocated paintings attributed to Pablo Picasso to a female toilet cubicle. However, on Wednesday, after multiple inquiries from Guardian Australia, Mona revealed that the Picassos are fake. The so-called Picasso paintings, including a copy of “Luncheon on the Grass, After Manet” (1961), were actually created by Kirsha Kaechele, an artist, curator, and the wife of Mona’s millionaire owner, David Walsh.

Kaechele had previously made headlines when a court ruled that Mona’s Ladies Lounge, a female-only space in the gallery she curated, must admit men. She then moved the Picassos into a female toilet cubicle to legally keep them exclusive to female viewers. But after being approached by Guardian Australia and separately by the Picasso administration, Kaechele published a statement on Mona’s website admitting the paintings were not by the late Spanish artist but were painted by herself three and a half years ago.

The museum had previously claimed that Kaechele inherited the paintings from her great-grandmother, who she said had been a lover of Picasso and had holidayed with him. Kaechele also admitted that other works displayed in the Ladies Lounge were not genuine, including spears described as antiques and a rug said to have once belonged to Queen Mary of Denmark.

In her blog post, Kaechele explained her actions, stating she had waited “patiently” for almost four years for the truth to be discovered. She decided to forge the works when the Ladies Lounge was first created because “it had to be as opulent and sumptuous as possible.” She believed that if men were to feel as excluded as possible, the Lounge would need to display the most important artworks in the world. She knew of several Picasso paintings she could borrow from friends, but none of them were green, and she wished for the Lounge to be monochrome. Additionally, the cost of insuring a Picasso was exorbitant.

Kaechele expressed that she liked the idea of women questioning Picasso’s supremacy and that she liked the irony of a misogynist dominating the walls of the Ladies Lounge. Alongside a work by Sidney Nolan depicting a rape scene, “Leda and Swan,” she felt it added to the conceptual depth of the space. A Mona spokesperson confirmed to Guardian Australia that the Sidney Nolan work was genuine.

Kaechele painted the Picasso works in secret and claimed that even the gallery staff were fooled. She recounted an incident where someone called to tell her one of the paintings had been hung upside down. She waited for weeks, expecting the truth to come out, but nothing happened.

Since then, Kaechele stated that all her acquisitions for Mona to date have been real Picassos, which presents a problem. She pondered how to justify simultaneously showing real and faux Picassos. It’s one thing to have fabricated objects in a room as part of a conceptual artwork where everything is fake, but to then display real ones in another part of the museum is complicated.

Kaechele reflected on her journey from a conceptual artist to an activist, noting that it made her think more profoundly about gender imbalance. She admitted that she always hated hardcore feminism but found herself embodying the very things she once despised.

Three years ago, Kaechele fantasized about a scandal where the fake Picassos would be exposed as art fraud. She imagined that a Picasso scholar, fan, or even someone who simply googles things would visit the Ladies Lounge, see the painting was upside down, and expose her on social media. She expressed relief at finally revealing the truth, hoping that people would still want to speak to her and forgive her.

She ended her post with an apology in French to the Picasso Administration, which manages his estate, expressing her deep regret for causing them this problem and her great respect for the greatest artist.

Source: Guardian Australia

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