Did you know that most of the information of your artwork does not meet the eye? A work of art can tell its story, but for that you need help from our scientific solutions. Professional art analysis provides confidence when buying / selling works of art and above all influences positively on the price.
The art market is larger than most people think – and is growing. In 2017, public art sales were $64 billion, a 12% increase from the previous year. This figure does not include the value of private sales, which would further add to this surprising sum.
Painting: Red Painting With Horses a forgery by Wolfgang Beltracchi, supposedly by Campendonk
A significant percentage of these transactions involves the secondary market, from antiquity to post-modern works of the 20th century. This extremely large financial sector can be a risky area in which to invest as the art world is largely unregulated and there are no rigorous standards for due diligence when buying and selling art.
While good connoisseurship and provenance research are crucial when making informed purchases, the risk of forgery remains an ongoing concern that these disciplines are not fully equipped to address.
in New York
RECENART hyperspectral imaging team is in New York between 17th and 21st of December. This imaging technique allows high-resolution images of underdrawings, hidden signatures and lost text.
Above left: image in normal light, in right hyperspectral image | Painting: Pieter van Lint: Adoration of the Magi, oil on canvas. HIEKKA ART MUSEUM – THE KUSTAA HIEKKA FOUNDATION
Normal photos have three colors: red, green and blue. This type of information is called RGB. Likewise, the human eye has only 3 different cell types that can detect the colors (one for each RGB). Hyperspectral cameras used by RECENART can detect hundreds of different colors. Our researchers have developed unique ways to process the hyperspectral data, which is impossible by traditional infrared imaging.
Our hyperspectral cameras combined with innovative data processing provide information on artworks, underdrawings, lost signatures and vanished texts.
Our latest Newsletter about recovering the lost text from the old maps here.
This is an original map of the Finnish wilderness area since 1582. The place names have worn down over time. The map is based on the court’s decision at the time and was done by locals, as the first surveyor started working in Finland in 1633. Places marked on the map were significant landmarks in nature – for example, a lake, an island, a hill and a large rock. The map was rediscovered in 1659 and the local judge was a little annoyed about the condition of the map and the handwriting: “The map is broken and weary and difficult to read.”, he wrote.
The map defined the route to Lapland and it is still the main highway to the North.
RECENART was introduced in Helsingin Sanomat cultural news on 18th of January 2017. The article was about forensic analysis. You can read the article here (available only in Finnish).
RECENART events in Finland and abroad
RECENART is now a company, which is funded by private and corporate investors. Our team serves various organisations and art collectors internationally; those seeking information on the history or the authenticity of the art work. Optical and material scientific research of art combined with expertise in art history forms the core competency of RECENART.
In September we participated in two conferences, and organised seminar for our stakeholders. Nils Kantola and Teija Luukkanen-Hirvikoski from the RECENART team participated in The Art Business Conference which took place in London in September. There were altogether 370 participants representing expertise in the art market, as well as in the fields of investing and securing. The presentations and discussions covered topics such as art markets in the Middle East, authenticity of art, consignments, online branding, and the impacts of Brexit.
Nils Kantola in London.
And what about the impacts of Brexit? That is the question that we have been thinking at RECENART as well. In conclusion, the impacts seem to remain very little, so far. According to the art market professionals in London, collectors will continue collecting, and art dealers will continue puchasing and selling art despite the Brexit.
After the London conference, Teija participated in the CIHA 2016 conference for art historians in Beijing. Questions around the provenance and authenticity of art have become burning issues even in China and Latin America. For example, the Wildenstein Gallery was active in selling looted art in Buenos Aires in the beginning of the 1940s. Many collectors in Argentina may have thought that by purchasing looted art they were preserving valuable cultural heritage. During wartime paintings were seen as good financial investments, too. The current shift in attitudes stems from an increasing interest in provenance and ethics. And of course, the willingness to secure one´s investment in art. Nowadays the war in Syria and other exports of antiquities from the Middle East conflict areas provide objects for fast growing illegal markets.
Highlights of the first RECENART seminar
Over 45 stakeholders of RECENART participated in the first Autumn seminar on Thursday, 22nd of September, and visited our new office in Jyväskylä. We had invited two interesting speakers who gave lectures about art markets and forgeries. The focus was laid on the Finnish context but since these are global phenomena, there were European case studies introduced to the audience, too.
Kimmo Nokkonen in RECENART seminar.
The first speaker, Kimmo Nokkonen, Head of investigation, The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) of Finland, explained facts and cases about art crime and forgeries. According to him, forgeries have become more common in the Finnish art scene during the past 30 years. Among the most forged Finnish artists are for example Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Albert Edelfelt, Helene Schjerfbeck, Pekka Halonen, Eero Järnefelt, and Ellen Thesleff. Those artists represent the so called Golden age of Finnish art. Take a closer look at: https://www.poliisi.fi/keskusrikospoliisi/kateissa_olevia_epailtyja_taidevaarennoksia
When the demand of collectible objects is greater than their supply, art criminals enter into the market. As Mr. Nokkonen reminded, forgers are truly professionals in their field, and interested in making money. He told that it is impossible to make a difference between a good forgery and the authentic artwork without material technical analysis.
Paintings by two popular Russian artists, Ilja Repin and Ivan Aiwazowski are often forged as well. Finland is the hub for Russian art going into the international art markets, as well as back to Russian collectors. Kimmo Nokkonen told that when investing in fine art, it is important to remember that art crime has increased. Art is still a good investment but buyers should be aware of all the risks and how to manage these. Besides fine art, old maps and manuscripts which are kept in the collections of European and Scandinavian libraries and archives are targets for criminals nowadays. The main markets for stolen archive objects are in Europe and in the USA.
Avoid buying art from the car boot
As second speaker, Wenzel Hagelstam, the grand old man of the Finnish art market and currently major shareholder of the Hagelstam & Co auction house, told first about his lifelong passion for and his career in the art and antiquity market. Many things have changed during the last decades. When Mr. Hagelstam started his business, there were no auction houses in Finland. He has witnessed the changes in the Finnish art market scene from art booms to recessions, changes in taste and technologies. He has become acquainted with many generations of collectors. Wenzel Hagelstam was first to launch auctions for design objects in Finland.
Wenzel Hagelstam told about his fascinating career.
During the 1980s when the art market boomed in Finland it was quite common buy art from various sources. Besides auction houses, galleries and exhibitions, so called “travelling salesmen” sold works of art out of their car boots. Many private and corporate collectors purchased art neither knowing their provenance nor ensuring their authenticity. Still active in art business, Mr. Hagelstam pointed out the importance of carefully considering where to buy art and design. Many collectors rely on false documents or histories written by the seller.
But things are changing. Trust, security, and new technologies describe both, the purchasing of art and the researching of art.
6. Researchers find Monet’s hidden signature Researchers at Finland’s University of Jyväskylä used a hyperspectral camera and an XRF device to uncover Claude Monet’s signature obscured under a layer of paint in A Haystack in the Evening Sun. Until now, researchers have been skeptical of the authenticity of the 1891 painting due to the missing signature.
Claude Monet, Haystacks in the evening sun, 1891, oil on canvas, 38,5×52 cm, Gösta Serlachius Foundation
University of Jyväskylä and the Monet research was presented in the international news.
The University of Jyväskylä: RECENART’s Monet research was presented in the BBC News.
The imaging was done by hyperspectral camera and the pigment analysis by XRF spectrometer in the Serlachius Museums.
The research was carried out by Art historian Tiina Koivulahti, Material analysts Seppo Hornytzkyj and Juhani Huuskonen, and Ilkka Pölönen the IT-specialist.
RECENART has an agile mobile laboratory, which can research artworks on site.