impersonation

Sputnik: The Odyssey of the Soyuz II

Joan Fontcuberta's 1997 Sputnik project is a classic of fictive art. Sputnik details the life and exploits of a little-known Russian cosmonaut named Ivan Istochnikov whose mysterious disappearance during the flight of the Soyuz 2 spaceship in 1968 was followed by an extensive cover-up on the part of the Soviet bureaucracy.

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).

Psalmanazar, George

George Psalmanazar (?1679-1763) was a French adventurer who told many different tales about himself in the course of a wide variety of impersonations: Irish pilgrim, Japanese convert, beggar, soldier, chaplain. He is best know for claiming to be the first Formosan ever to visit Europe, a story supported by his 1704 book An Historical and Geographical Description of Formosa, an Island subject to the Emperor of Japan. Two years later he confessed to his fabrications and spent the rest of his long life as  writer and editor.

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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