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Article

Bruce Tattersall

revised by Natasha Degen

The arena in which a buyer seeks to acquire, either directly or through an agent, a particular work of art for reasons of aesthetics, connoisseurship, investment, or speculation. The historical beginnings of the art market lie in patronage. With the growth of Collecting for aesthetic and worldly motives rather than religious ones came a corresponding growth in dealing, with the dealer acting as middleman as the number of artists and collectors increased and spread geographically. The dealer, often an artist, discovered and promoted other artists and persuaded collectors to buy at a price determined by him. His role was strengthened by the 16th-century distinction between artist and artisan and the concept of a Masterpiece. This precept, allied to a growing antiquarian interest, reinforced the position of the dealer as arbiter of taste, and his status was further enhanced as great collections were amassed and disposed of in the 16th and 17th centuries. During this period collecting became popular with the middle classes and the art market expanded accordingly; the sale of art by ...

Article

Thierry Lenain

The concept that a thing (person, object, type of behaviour, etc.) is what it seems, or is said, or believed to be. Implicit in the very notion of authenticity is the possibility of misrepresentation. In essence, to be authentic is to be the opposite of fake or phony. Authenticity is judged by performing tests to verify that external appearance and substantial reality actually match. An artwork can be deemed ‘authentic’ as a work of art (as opposed to a mere product without artistic value); as the product of a particular artist (a Monet, rather than a work by another artist in his style); as an artefact of a specific time (a 14th-century sculpture, as opposed to a Gothic Revival imitation); or as an object composed of a particular material (a bronze sculpture, versus one made of plaster with a bronze-like patina).

Each judgement of authenticity is based on a different set of criteria. To conclude that someone is authentic as a person is to say that his or her way of behaving is in accordance with their inner self, personal values, social background, and life choices; this is a moral judgement that cannot be reduced to assessing the presence or absence of objective features. Similarly, pronouncing an object a genuine artwork denotes that it is the result of real artistic talent and sincere commitment. This assessment relies on an element of subjectivity and is always dependent on a specific cultural context that will define which class of objects can be elevated to the status of art. It also carries moral overtones as it amounts to a declaration of whether the object in question was made by a true artist acting as such, that is, by someone faithful to the essential and somehow transcendent demands of art....

Article

Robert Cumming

Act of assembling groups of objects. Any account of collecting works of art has to cover a very wide field of enquiry. Its history is often obscure and complicated, and many issues such as aesthetics, finance, psychology, and indeed the definition of the phenomenon must also be considered, including how culturally widespread collecting is. It can be identified in most of the great civilizations throughout history, from China and Japan to the Islamic and Western worlds, and in each instance there are many features in common. Although some of the general points made in this article apply to all forms of collecting, it concentrates on the example provided by the West. Collecting in other civilizations is discussed under the appropriate geographic or cultural headings. There are also sections discussing collecting in most modern country surveys.

In any discussion of collecting, one of the first problems to be dealt with is that of evidence: what did a particular collection contain, when, and where? Most collections, however painstakingly built up, are dispersed after the death of the collector, sometimes in spite of the conditions of a bequest. The important collection of paintings and sculpture of ...

Article

Enrico Castelnuovo, Jaynie Anderson, Stephen B. Little, Christine M. E. Guth, S. N. Chaturvedi and Anna Tummers

Term given to the technique or art of recognizing works of art. In the Western world this particularly involves the evaluation, distinction, and appreciation of the work’s quality and, above all, the ability to determine the time and place of its execution and, as far as possible, the identity of the artist. A lack of signatures, precise documentation, and other information concerning most figurative works has meant that the establishment and development of criteria and classification and thus the practice of attribution have been highly dependent on the development of collecting and of an art market. Connoisseurship is not an exclusively Western phenomenon, however: it has evolved alongside the development of collections of art in such countries as China, where the role of the connoisseur was established as early as the Bronze Age.

Enrico Castelnuovo

In the earliest literature on the history and appreciation of art, dating to Classical times and then the Renaissance (...

Article

Forgery  

Thierry Lenain

One of many forms of deceit wherein one attempts to make an object pass for something it is not. Within discussions of art, this object is an artwork intentionally misrepresented so as to appear substantially different from what it actually is. The fraud may affect first-degree properties of the work, such as its material constitution, artistic content, or general appearance, but may also be applied to its historical background. In some cases, part of an existing artwork may be retained while other elements are added or removed. The work as a whole can be altered so as to present an alternate reality: it may be made to appear older, or in a better state of preservation, or to represent a different subject (a royal, rather than a common subject for example), and so forth. A similar end can be achieved through the construction of a completely new object disguised as something else; this is what is usually referred to as ‘forgery’ in the narrowest sense of the word....

Article

Roberta Rosenthal Kwall

Legal doctrine concerning authors’ rights that protects a creator’s personal, as opposed to economic, interests. These protections include the creator’s right to appropriate attribution and the right to have the integrity of one’s work properly maintained (see also Art legislation).

The law governing authors’ rights in the USA reflects an incomplete understanding of the motivations for human artistry. Copyright law, the body of law governing authors’ rights, rewards economic incentives almost exclusively. From the beginning, American copyright law has been designed to calibrate the ideal level of economic incentive to promote creativity. With the exception of a narrow form of protection for certain types of visual art, copyright law in America does not provide authors with legal protection such as the right to have their works attributed to them, or the right to have their works maintained and presented in a manner consistent with their artistic vision. These rights are known, respectively, as the right of attribution and the right of integrity and they are part of the larger doctrine of moral rights law....