hoaxes

Abel, Alan

Alan Abel (b. 1930) is a prolific contemporary hoaxster who refers to himself as a "professional prankster". Abel is perhaps best known for his creation in the late 1950s of a fictive organization called the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals. SINA's expressed goal of clothing all animals for the sake of modesty afforded Abel a framework within which to put forward a critique of censorship. This initially light-hearted prank gained currency when it was picked up by the mass media and treated as a serious topic, making Abel an early media jammer.

Malley, Ern

Ern Malley was an Australian poet and artist, the joint creation of writers James McAuley and Harold Stewart. McAuley and Stewart created Malley as a hoax aimed at editor Max Harris and his Melbourne-based modernist literary magazine Angry Peguins, which they considered pretentious.

Cottingley fairies (Elsie Wright + Frances Griffiths)

Beginning in 1917, two English girls, Elsie Wright (1901-88) and Frances Griffiths (1907-86), made a series of five photographs that purported to show them with real fairies. Although suspected as fakes from the outset, the controversy over their status continued for decades.

Cottingley fairy photo

Tate, Nat (William Boyd and others)

In 1998 writer  William Boyd published a book entitled Nat Tate - An American Artist 1928-1960 that was the biography of a fictional American artist.  The book takes the form of a traditional artist's monograph, with illustrations including photographs of Tate's work and documents from his life. The fiction is supported by statements attributed to various celebrities such as Hans Hofmann and Gore Vidal (who was an active collaborator on the project).

Thomann, Georg Paul (monochrom)

Georg Paul Thomann (1945-2005) is a fictitious 20th century artist created by the Austrian art group monochrom, founded by artist  Johannes Grenzfurthner. In their words, "Georg Paul Thomann does not exist, at least not as a physical entity. He is an art avatar and impure fiction."1

  1. From Grenszfurthner,  "A Short History."
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