Synopses & Reviews
In 2010 the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver director Adam Lerner did something unheard of in the museum world: he mounted a large exhibition of paintings without first knowing whether they were real or fakes. Painted in the Suprematist and Constructivist style of early twentieth-century Russian avant-garde masters, the 181 canvases had been acquired by amateur collectors Ron and Roger Pollard from a mysterious seller in Germany they met on eBay who claimed the paintings were found in an abandoned shipping container held in German customs since the 1980s. In From Russia with Doubt, Lerner skillfully weaves together the tale—from the initial eBay find to his controversial decision to exhibit the collection—guiding readers through the looking glass into the Byzantine corridors of the art world and beyond, describing the owners' quest to authenticate and appraise the would-be masterpieces. What he finds raises powerful questions about our own relationship to art.
"Adam Lerner's story of this improbable collection is an amusing yet sneakily profound ditty about the alchemical nature of what makes art Art." - Barnaby Furnas, artist
"An incredible story. Adam Lerner's book beautifully illuminates the mysterious possibility of objects and the people and histories they connect us to. A must read for anyone who loves art, spy novels, and the ineffable act of looking." - Dana Schutz, artist
"The story of Ron, Roger, and their Russian paintings reads like an outrageously surreal novel about the international art world co-written by Franz Kafka and John le Carré. Adam Lerner's enormously entertaining book takes us deep into a world of art forgery where ex-communist spies meet art aficionados to trade Russian avant-garde paintings over the Internet." - Jens Hoffmann, deputy director, Jewish Museum, New York
"The book reads like a great thriller.... It's also a beautiful meditation on what defines the authenticity of art." - The Paris Review blog
About the Author
Adam Lerner is Director and Chief Animator at MCA Denver