Wood you buy it? Artist carves expensive art from blocks of wood

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The finished sculpture, by Randall Rosenthal, looks real (SWNS)

Pieces of wood can fetch up to $25,000.

But this isn't the type of wood found in your back garden - art lovers fork out huge sums for blocks of wood which are painstakingly carved into works of art with breathtaking results.

Randall Rosenthal, 65, specialises in wooden sculptures of mundane, everyday items such as a chopping board, a pile of newspapers and an atlas.

The New York-based artist can spend months on each project, whittling the wood down into shape and then intricately hand-painting the details.

The result are sculptures that are so realistic, they can easily be mistaken for the real thing. The only give away is the slight hint of the wood's grain showing through the paint.

Mr Rosenthal said: "My hope is they will seem real from a short distance, but on closer inspection I don't try to hide the fact they are wood.

"My work is completely reductive. I start with a solid block and remove material until I am done.

"Painting is the opposite and I paint until I am satisfied.

"It should be noted however that often the painting has as little room for error as the carving."

Mr Rosenthal doesn't work from models or photographs, preferring to imagine the scene in his mind before approaching the wood.

When Mr Rosenthal puts on a gallery exhibition, he goes against the grain by allowing his audience to touch one of his sculptures - to ascertain whether they're real or fake.

The others are protected leaving his audience to decide whether they are real or not.

His "Lunch Money" sculpture, representing stacks of hundred dollar bills in a corrugated cardboard box took six weeks to carve and another six to finish painting.

Art lovers had to pay out $25,000 in 'real' money for the sculpture.

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