IN ORDER to weed out fakes and replicas of Corbusier-designed objects, the UT urban planning department has now decided to check the authenticity of all furniture items and manhole covers attributed to the famous Swiss architect who planned Chandigarh.
The urban planning department says there are many replicas and does not rule out the possibility that fakes masquerading as Corbusier originals were being sold even in the international market. Deepika Gandhi, director of Le Corbusier Centre and Chandigarh Architecture Museum, said that they would have to go into minute details to differentiate the replicas from the originals.
“Other than getting the drawings and stock register from each department, we will have to get into the nitty-gritty and look for details such as nails or screws used in the work because, in the original furniture, wood joints are used. Also, the kind of polish used — a synthetic varnish is used nowadays. We will have to check if the edges are flat or round,” she said.
A senior official said that they would have to check the casting of all the manhole covers as they have been told that two kinds of impressions of Chandigarh master plan have been found — one, where sectors are raised and roads are depressed, and the other where roads are raised and sectors are depressed.
In recent correspondence between the UT and Archaeological Survey of India, the ASI had asked UT to begin enumerating Corbusier’s works and then check their authenticity. The letter written by ASI director general Usha Sharma had stated that unless the direct contribution showing that these articles were made by Corbusier and his team, it would be difficult to consider such artwork as art treasure.
It stated that the Antiquities and Art Treasure Act, 1972, suggests that the artistic or the aesthetic value of these items ought to bear some determinable sign of the direct contribution of the author of the work. “Therefore, the authenticity of each work of art and their author needs to be established primarily. While mentioning this, I would like to draw your attention that there are several instances where replicas of original art objects are sold as genuine work of art in the international market hence authentication of each artwork becomes more essential before considering them as art treasure,” the ASI had pointed out when the UT Administration wrote to them to declare this work as art treasure.
D N Dimri, Director (Antiquity) from ASI Delhi, told Chandigarh Newsline that the only way Chandigarh could prevent illegal export was to prepare an inventory and authenticate the items. “The Chandigarh Administration has been advised by the Director General ASI to prepare the inventory of all such works, authenticate them and a museum can be established to showcase such works of art, which will prevent illegal export of these items,” he said.