How to Fake Like You Know About Art

New episodes of USA Network’s White Collar — our favorite series that follows the exploits of a con man’s (Matt Bomer) adjunct assignment with an FBI Special Agent (Tim DeKay) — are right around the corner. To get in the mood for more forgeries and billion-dollar heists, we devised our own cheat sheet to help you fake it with the best of them. If you can’t tell your Post-Impressionist painters from classical Greek sculpture, you can master the art of deception with our guide to the classics. Fake your way through the world’s greatest museums, meet the first Renaissance men, and find out the difference between Monet and Manet after the jump.

Photo credit: Brian Kerr

An Extremely Brief Art History Timeline

Save your money and skip buying the latest edition of Janson’s History of Art. Start your education with our cheat sheet to help navigate through some of the major art history movements.

Ancient art: sky people

Medieval art: the Dark Ages, Pulp Fiction

Renaissance art: ugly babies

Baroque art: Patrick Bateman’s (and company’s) radicchio with free-range squid and monkfish ragout with violets at Deck Chairs on Columbus; or the monkfish with mango slices and red snapper sandwich on brioche with maple syrup and cotton he didn’t order at Vanities in Tribeca

Rococo art: Patrick Bateman’s blood-splattered business card

Neoclassicism: misanthropy

Romanticism: #feelings

Realism: Gustave Courbet and L’Origine du monde


Impressionism: Monet

Post-Impressionism: absinthe

Symbolism: #dark #feelings

Fauvism: a cacophony of artificially colored pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, green clovers, blue diamonds, and purple horseshoes

Expressionism: madness, The Scream

Pablo Picasso, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Cubism: Pablo Picasso

Futurism: really rich Italian Satanists

Dada: the original Cabaret Voltaire

Surrealism: Hegel, Marx, Freud + communism, anarchy = André Breton, Salvador Dalí, and Salvador Dalí dorm posters

Abstract Expressionism: Jackson Pollock and a plethora of “no.” paintings.

Pop art: Andy Warhol

For our purposes, this sums up everything that came after:

Photo credit: gusto1