Could you tell me about ArtDiscovery, your background and how you became a leading provider of scientific and technical expertise to the fine art community?
ArtDiscovery was founded in 2009 and has offices in New York and London. Our experts have spent decades collecting and analysing data on an extensive range of reference materials, especially pigments. Our database of pigments is the world’s largest, privately owned collection as is its associated spectral library. As a result, we are able to refer to this rich historical data, ensuring that our results are accurate, consistent and comprehensive.
Our investigations substantiate and provide an objective cross-check to traditional art historical approaches such as provenance research and connoisseurial opinion. While utilising high-tech methods and technologies, we are far more than ‘scientists.’ All of our multidisciplinary specialists are trained art conservators and technical art historians. We strive to help our clients increase the value of their artworks and give them increased confidence when buying art.
Practically, what does ArtDiscovery offer to the individual client?
ArtDiscovery is the market leader for scientific analysis and technical art history in support of art authentication. Using material science and technical imaging with the context of technical art history, we support clients worldwide increasing value, reducing risk, establishing attribution, determining condition, addressing legal and insurance claims and much more.
Our experienced and internationally recognized team has investigated artists from Rembrandt to Calder, Monet, Da Vinci, Picasso and Kusama - in locations from Los Angeles to Paris, Cairo and other destinations around the globe. Our protocols are designed with art in mind – to collect maximum information while treating it as if it were our own.
You have an established track record in high-profile cases related to authentication and forgeries. Which has been the most memorable?
A few years ago, a newly discovered painting thought to be by Wassily Kandinsky was brought to our lab upon the request of the Kandinsky Foundation, to provide an assessment to assist the artist’s foundation in reaching a decision on the authenticity of the work. After conducting a technical examination, we found the painting to be consistent with Kandinsky’s materials, and with technical imaging we were able to decipher an underdrawing that depicted a harbor scene. The Foundation discovered the underdrawing matched a sketch done by the artist in his authenticated sketchbook and, thanks to this discovery, the painting was accepted into the catalogue raisonné. Needless to say, its value increased enormously. This is just an example of why we have seen the power and value of embracing new ways to investigate artworks.
What medium and category of artworks do you prefer to apply your scientific methods on?
From Old Master paintings to the Impressionists, through Modern and Contemporary, we have the background and necessary experience to address various genres as well as types of art from paintings to sculptures, drawings, and much more. Recently, ArtDiscovery helped reassign the dating of an important Japanese wooden sculpture of a Buddha to the 11th-12th century (first thought to date to the 16th century) by means of radiocarbon analysis – revealing its historical importance. It is a real pleasure to have the opportunity to work on a wide range of media while applying our standard protocols – no two days are the same!
What are your thoughts on the digitalisation of the art market, and the key role that transparency and trust have come to play?
We see an increasing number of high-value transactions taking place online, often with the artwork purchased sight-unseen (only from images on a screen). When a collector spends a significant amount of money on a work of art, this poses a real and substantial risk – asking for additional reassurance is not only a fair request, more robust support becomes almost a requirement. I am confident that with the inclusion of the right tools and expertise, more transparency, trust and confidence can be achieved to sustain the new digital era embraced by the art world.
How dependent is your business on logistics, and what have been the challenges related to it?
Most of our clients have to ship their artworks internationally and finding a company that works in a fast way, with efficient care and competitive prices, is definitely something we were looking for. With offices in London, Paris and New York, Convelio is well-placed to make the transition post Brexit stress-free and convenient - handling all the necessary documentation required for shipping your artworks across the globe safely. We are very excited to start a long and fruitful partnership with Convelio and we are certain that our clients will benefit from it.