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Researching and Attributing Works of Art

Art Historical Research

Art historical research focuses on understanding and interpreting works of art in their historical context. This includes the analysis of styles and techniques, the identification of artists and their influences, the investigation of social, political and cultural backgrounds and the evaluation of the meaning and reception of artworks over time.

 

Topics such as iconography, symbolism and art theory play just as important a role in the analysis and interpretation of works of art as investigations into the materiality and production techniques of works of art.

My Approach: Exploring Works of Art

The inventory of the object is followed by art historical research in catalogs raisonnés or monographs. These can cover the artist's entire oeuvre or a period of time relating to the work. If there are no such publications, exhibition catalogs and specialist literature must be examined and archives contacted to find references to the artist or the work. This research can be carried out briefly or intensively by individual arrangement.

At the beginning or during this process, the aim of the research must be discussed with the collector. Is the artwork or artworks to be loaned to a museum or is it to be sold and is restoration necessary for this? For the loan, I research museums that either have a regional connection to the artist or already own works by him or her. I can establish contact with the relevant museum via my nationwide network. If the artwork is to be sold, I research auction price databases to see whether works by the artist are or have been traded. If this is the case, I check in which auction houses or galleries works have been offered or sold in the recent past. Thanks to my international network of contacts in auction houses and galleries in Germany, Europe and the USA, I can assist with the mediation. If, on the other hand, the work is to be restored or the surface cleaned, I can recommend restorers in Berlin and Potsdam.

On the basis of these findings, I write an art historical expertise which, in addition to the artist's details and an image description, includes a classification of the work in the oeuvre. Finally, I can make recommendations depending on whether the object is to be lent, sold or restored, for example.

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