Real Fake Art: A Gallery of China's Copy Artists

China produces 70 percent of copies of famous masterpieces for export to North America and Europe. The fastest copy artists chug out 30 paintings a day. In his series Real Fake Art, photographer Michael Wolf took portraits of professional artisans next to the Lichtensteins, the Van Goghs and the many disproportionately giant Mona Lisas mass produced in this fascinating, multimillion industry, timeless classics and contemporary art blockbusters alike. A painter stands shyly by her Francis Bacon in an alley. A sharp looking gentleman holds a Gerhard Richter canvas copy, similar to his Sonic Youth Daydream Nation cover. As a series, the project explores the interplay between the Chinese tradition of artists copying master works to develop their skills and the capitalist structure that makes it lucrative. Check out some of our favorite individuals in our gallery.


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Chuck Close’s Self-Portrait (2004-2005).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Gerhard Richter’s Two Candles (1982).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers.


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Francisco Goya’s Saturn Devouring His Children (1819-1823).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of August Sander’s Widower With Sons (1906-1907).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Roy Lichtenstein’s The Melody Haunts My Reverie (1965).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring Francis Bacon’s Study After Velazquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X (1953).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Edward Hopper’s Automat (1927).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (1503-1519).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Ed Ruscha’s Noise (1963).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Jasper Johns’ Flag (1954-1955).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring copies of On Kawara’s Today series.


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Gerhard Richter’s Woman Descending the Staircase (1965).


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of a Neo Rauch painting.


Real Fake Art, Michael Wolf. Featuring a copy of Chuck Close’s Large Mark/Pastel (1978) and more.