|Maureen Zaremba and Beth Mattison|
The first of these methods is looking at the work's provenance; i.e., establishing the line of ownership from the hands of the artist to the current owner. (As they spoke about provenance, I found myself thinking about how the provenance of "antique" furniture was faked in Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch and wondering how often disreputable art dealers engage in similar practices.) One of the ongoing areas of research relates to the provenance of artwork that might have been stolen by the Nazis during WWII. The Nazi Era Provenance Internet Portal is one such project. Its objective is to provide a researchable site covering all works in U.S. museums that changed ownership in Continental Europe during the Nazi era. Needless to say, a huge task, and one that the Ringling has participated in.
The second means of authentication is connoisseurship, essentially an art expert putting his seal of approval on a work of art as genuine. It reminds me of the Supreme Court's test for obscenity. "I know it when I see it." Of course, in this case, the connoisseur has usually spent a lifetime studying and writing about the artist in question.
|An Amptek x-ray spectometer in use to examine a wall painting|
|Teri Horton now knows who Jackson Pollock is.|
The final installment in the Ringling's series will give the audience a peek into the ways museums protect their collections from would-be thieves. On Thursday, August 28, at 6:00, Ringling staff will talk about security at the Museum, with a screening of "The Thomas Crown Affair" (with Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo) to follow. Admission is only $5. Perhaps I'll see you there.