The Role of Conservation Sciences in the Authentication of Modern and Contemporary Art Works

Research Project Description
This PhD project aims to provide the basis for the establishment of standards for procedures to establish authenticity. Recently, one of Germany’s greatest art scandals, the Beltracchi forgery case (2012), made clear that there is a need to define the role of ‘scientific analysis’ in the context of the complex authentication processes of modern and contemporary art. In collaboration with the Auction House Lempertz in Cologne this research project will analyze a representative number of recent and new case studies where authenticity is doubted. Furthermore, cases will be analyzed where common authentication practices failed. The aim of this study will be to compare recent methodologies and techniques in the field of conservation sciences, to explore the relationship between methods derived from the humanities and those derived from the natural sciences, and to define the roles of conservators and conservation scientists in establishing and approving authenticity of modern and contemporary art works. Central to these investigations is to establish and communicate clearly the possibilities and limitations of art technological and scientific analysis to other stakeholders in that process and to support collectors and museums in their decision-making processes. Perspectives of various participants in the processes such as artists, estates, dealers, collectors and conservators will be considered.

Researcher
Samantha Skelton

Home Institution
CICS – Cologne Institute of Conservation Sciences
Cologne University of Applied Sciences
Cologne, Germany

Supervisors
Prof. Dr. Gunnar Heydenreich, Cologne University of Applied Sciences
Dr. Erma Hermens, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Project Partner
Kunsthaus Lempertz KG, Cologne

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