"Authenticity is an important concept for debating the nature of art and art restoration, and I would like to point out a few issues with that in mind.
As the philosopher Denis Dutton remarked, authentic is a word whose meaning remains uncertain until we know what dimension of its referent is being talked about. For conservation we have many dimensions and I think that the best way to tackle this problem is to talk of authenticity as a triangular set of relationships between: material authenticity, intangible authenticity and historical-aesthetic authenticity. By doing that we can talk about the process of authentication, which largely depends on material authenticity, or in the case of modern art, it depends on the certificate of authenticity itself.
Consider Ives Klein’s work, The Room of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility from 1961. Here Klein exhibits an empty room, as his recent paintings have been declared to be invisible. In order to exhibit this work legitimately, it is the certificate of authenticity that would be necessary, as the work itself possesses only an intangible authentic presence.
In other cases there are works, such as Renaissance marble fakes of Roman copies of Greek bronze sculpture, where we value the historical-aesthetic authenticity, even if materially, the Renaissance copy is made from materials not representative of Roman origin. I will not go on here, but I hope that you get the picture: that there is no such thing as “authentic” but there are authenticities which can be further elaborated.
That has a bearing on some of our contributions here, which consider the integration of philosophical tools for authenticity, the notions of originality, objectivity and subjectivity in conservation, and the educational role of authentic copies. "