As we ring in 2017, we also usher in a new round of pledges to ourselves. We resolve to eat healthier, contribute to our communities, and be kinder to others.
As you reflect on the past year and plan for the next, don’t forget about your art. Take small measures now to ensure that some of your most beloved assets are in good shape. You’ll be saving yourself major headaches down the road. We asked seven professionals from different areas of the art world to suggest New Year’s resolutions that collectors and businesses should make. Read on for expert advice that spans technical, legal, and financial considerations. No matter how your new personal resolutions go, your art will be in great shape.
1. Check or upgrade your gallery or studio CCTV (closed circuit television, used for surveillance). Is it definitely still recording? For how long? Is the footage covering the right areas and is it of sufficient quality to satisfy your insurance underwriter's requirements?
2. When did you last test your backups? Is your data properly protected and is your Disaster Recovery (DR) plan up-to-date? Schedule a DR test to give you the peace of mind that you can survive the unexpected, and use the opportunity to improve your resilience.
3. Online fraud is on the rise. Are your systems still secure? Do your passwords require updating? Consider enabling two-factor authentication (2FA) to protect the gallery's most private systems. This is an extra layer of security that requires information beyond a username and password. And take a moment to check that access has been revoked for all previous employees (you may surprise yourself!).
—Alexander Caplan, Managing Director at Synergy Associates Ltd
ART COLLECTION MANAGEMENT
The beginning of every year is the perfect time to focus on general collections care items such as conducting appraisals, updating your insurance, and building/updating digital files with all provenance records surrounding each work. Additionally, it's the perfect time to address general housekeeping measures like retaining a conservator to assess the health of each work and recommend new framing, etc. I always commence every client project with a discussion about the necessity of maintaining one's collection, no matter the size, through these processes to ensure the future value and well-being of their asset.
—Julie Kinzelman, Kinzelman Art Consulting, LLC
2016's very public litigation involving the Knoedler Gallery is a wake-up call for all collectors. They should all complete due diligence before spending large sums of money. They must examine all three prongs of authentication testing: forensics, provenance, and connoisseurship. Buyers should also confirm information provided by sellers to ensure that opinions and reports were actually given (in the case of the Knoedler Gallery, its director falsely claimed that an expert believed in the veracity of a forgery). Also, a buyer must have a purchase agreement that enables a rescission in the event that a work is revealed to be a forgery.
Antiquities collectors must be mindful of new regulations concerning the import of items from conflict zones. In the spring, the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act was passed. It imposes new import restrictions on antiquities that are trafficked out of Syria. For collectors purchasing works from the Middle East, they must ensure that their purchases comply with these regulations. They should complete due diligence by researching objects and ensuring that all of the proper export documents and licenses have been procured and verified as authentic. If these steps are not taken, the objects may be seized; even if they aren't taken, a buyer may be unable to resell or donate them at a later date.
—Leila Amineddoleh, Amineddoleh & Associates LLC
If you can only take time for one New Year’s resolution, cast your eye over the backs of your paintings. By paying a little attention to the side people usually ignore, you can easily prevent future condition issues or damage. First, make sure the hanging hardware is secure and sufficient for the work of art; no one wants to hear the sound of a painting crashing to the floor for the want of a tight screw, good D-ring, or strong wire. A quick glance across the back may reveal hidden issues, such as loose or missing keys in the corners of a stretcher or a need for spacers to keep the painting from rattling around in the frame. For paintings on canvas, ensure a backing board is in place. Not only do backing boards provide a bit of an environmental barrier, but they are also remarkably effective at preventing or limiting damage should anything ever strike the painting from the front or back. For paintings on wood panels, have a look at how the picture is secured in the frame. Wood changes in response to changes in relative humidity and temperature, and improper restraint can cause cracks and splits to develop. Framing devices in cross-grain locations should have some degree of flexibility to allow the panel to fractionally contract and expand when it needs to — spring clips are perfect for this — while narrow metal plates affixed following the grain should securely hold the panel in place on end grain locations. If you’re not sure if your paintings are properly protected on the reverse, a paintings conservator can provide you with advice and solutions.
—Karen Thomas, Thomas Art Conservation
From a financial planner’s perspective, it always rubs me like sandpaper to speak of New Year’s resolutions (or tax refunds, for that matter) because I want people to have sound financial habits every day of the year, no matter when. That said, however, I encourage everyone to start good new habits whenever they can! As for good habits with regard to art/finance, specifically, one should love the work, always do due diligence, work with a good gallery, get a certificate of authenticity, add it to your insurance if a separate rider is required, and buy with Art Money! It makes good financial sense to pay for a work, or works, over 10 months without any fees, interest, or added cost.
—Shelley Fischer, Director of Finance & Operations at Art Money
As 2017 approaches, the role of PR in the art world finds itself in a compromised position as the ratio of arts-focused PR agencies to art publications is exponentially increasing. That means when it comes to hiring a communications firm, losers far outweigh the winners in achieving what you're paying them for.
A few things to think about when hiring a PR person in the arts.
1) It's Who You Know - Don't only get references from your colleagues, but find a way to get them from the actual journalists that you hope to cover your project in the future. See if the person you're looking to hire actually knows them, and if so, works with them frequently.
2) It’s What You Know - If the person you’re looking to hire seemingly knows very little about the subject at hand (in this case, modern and contemporary art), the likelihood that they are significantly invested in their profession is iffy. If you're interviewing someone, take them out for a drink and see if you like spending time with them first.
3) Check Yourself - Before you invest thousands of dollars in PR, do a little soul searching and ask the question: is this project really newsworthy? In a shrinking media landscape for arts coverage, beyond reviews, mainstream publications are looking for stories that resonate beyond the trade audience. Have you read comparable stories in The New York Times? W Magazine? Is there a larger cultural narrative that your project is a part of? If you think so, ask the PR agency you're speaking with to explain their take on it as well before you hire them. If they are a good fit, their ideas should be simpatico, or better clarify your understanding and expectations.
--Adam Abdalla, President at Cultural Counsel
1. I will question the connoisseurship, provenance, and forensics when buying art.
2. I will scan and digitize provenance records such as receipts, past conservation, and exhibits.
3. I will update, organize, and digitize my inventory of artworks.
—Allen Olson-Urtecho, Fine Arts Adjusters LLC
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