Art & Artist

The Essentials On Authenticating And Attributing Art

The Essentials On Authenticating And Attributing Art

You can find art for sale almost anywhere, most of it
coupled with a variety of forms of certification,
documentation, authentication, provenance,
attribution, and all other claims that the piece is by
this artist, etc. But guess what? None of these
papers, claims, certificates of authenticity,
documents or even tall tales mean a thing if they’re
not stated, authored, or else traceable to or directly
associated with accepted, recognized, and qualified
authorities about the art in question, and also the
artist themselves.

So here are some of the essentials to know on
attributing and authenticating art, how it works and
who the people to be trusted are.

They’re All Connected-Not!

One of the most pervasive problems in selling art
deals with “attributed” art. It’s so common that every
kind of unqualified individual would attribute
artworks to different kinds of artists, sad to say
100% of these attributions are considered to be

How come? Simply because in the art industry,
legitimate attributions are only made by known and
recognized authority figures that have legitimate
authority on the attributed artists’ names.

Defining “Attributed”

Officially and technically speaking, “attributed”
means a specific work of art, which is most likely an
original, is at the hand and is certified by a
qualified authority on the matter. Take note that your
keywords here are “qualified authority”. Thus, if the
attribution is done by an unqualified person, then it
would be meaningless.

Who Are The Qualified Authority?

A qualified authority is someone who really knows what
he/she is talking about and has the proof to anything
he/she says. Qualified authorities are those people
that have deliberately studied the artist under
consideration, have already published papers about the
artist, and have curated major gallery shows or
museums catering the works of the artist.

They can also be someone who have taught courses about
the artist; bought or sold at least dozens or even
hundreds of artworks by the artist; have written
magazine articles, books, or catalogue essays about
the artist, and the like.

The artist him/herself can also be a qualified
authority, along with his relatives, employees, direct
descendants, and heirs. Also, people who have formal,
legal, or estate-granted sanctions or entitlements in
able to pass judgment the artist’s works are
considered to be qualified authorities. Most
importantly, they should be recognized throughout the
whole art community to the people in charge when it
comes to the matter of dealing with works by that

Who Are Not Qualified?

The list of people whom are not qualified could take
forever to complete. However, here are some of the
general characteristics of those unqualified people
who most likely say that they are qualified.

First off, you should watch out for those who think
that the piece they are selling is by this certain
artist just because the work ‘looks like’ it is done
by that artist; also, those who think that the piece
is by that artist because they saw some illustrations
from art books that are similar to the piece at hand.

Additionally, sellers that answer you with “that is
what the previous owner told me” kind of questions are
not to be trusted. You really can’t rely on
tattle-tailing to very if the work is an original or
not. This is just the same if they say that the work
is by such artist because the previous owner is rich
and famous.

You should also watch out for art appraisers, since
they only appraise and not authenticate; unless they
have qualifications to do so. Take note that appraisal
and authentication are two different things.

So, if you’re planning on buying a so-called original,
then you must make sure that the person you’re talking
to is a qualified authority, or better yet, the artist