Copycat artist

Doeringer perfects the art of counterfeiting

In the arsenal of things an artist can do with paint and glue, Eric Doeringer does the unthinkable: He’s perfected the art of counterfeiting.

For the past five years, the New York-based Doeringer has produced hundreds of ersatz paintings, sculptures and DVDs that bear an uncanny resemblance to contemporary art pieces by the likes of Ed Ruscha, Elizabeth Peyton and Jeff Koons.

That may sound like good ol’ fashioned ’80s-style appropriation (think Sherrie Levine’s notorious rephotographing of Edward Weston’s photographs), but Doeringer goes a step further: He sells work like a bootlegger — on the street, with card tables — a few doors down from the city’s biggest galleries.

 “I don’t think there’s a fine line between what I do and forgery,” says Doeringer, 32, whose works sell for $100-$200. “Forgery is with the intent to defraud people. And I think I’m pretty honest and upfront with what I’m doing.”

Upfront means Doeringer doesn’t want anyone to mistake his copies of works for the real thing. While Jonathan Kent Gallery on Robertson Boulevard sells perfectly sincere “reproductions” of classic and modernist oil paintings for $4,000-$7,000, Doeringer’s pieces are often much smaller than the originals and clearly handmade.

“I love the humor in the work,” says longtime collector James Wagner, who, with partner Barry Hoggard, has a large collection of contemporary pieces with political and humorous themes. “We don’t buy Eric’s work instead of other art. We buy it because we enjoy the conceptual strategy behind it and the politics that seem to address issues of branding and star systems.”

That idea finds even greater clarity in Doeringer’s “Cremaster Fanatic,” a faux fan site devoted to Matthew Barney, the art-world superstar best known for his inscrutable, epic-length films.

“Barney epitomizes the notion of an artist as a celebrity,” says Doeringer. “And there’s this whole notion that the art world is supposed to be intellectual and above something like rabid fandom.”

Ironic? Sure. That’s why Doeringer tends to invoke Andy Kauffman rather than Andy Warhol in describing his influences. “With the best of [Kauffman],” he says, “you were never really sure if it was made up or the real thing.”

Doeringer will be displaying a number of Matthew Barney-inspired artworks, videos and memorabilia at Boca, just a few doors down from San Francisco’s MOMA, where Barney’s retrospective “Drawing Restraint” opens Wednesday.

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