Secret papers on famous artists including Gauguin, Renoir and Monet to be revealed

Paul Gauguin's Arearea no Varua ino – Le mauvais Esprit samuse (1894)

The tension between the art worlds traditional secretiveness and todays desire to share data spilled out in a question at the inaugural meeting of the International Catalogue Raisonné Association at Christies London in November. “If you let people know which works by artists are location unknown, fakers may supply the missing work,” said one attendee.

Elizabeth Gorayeb, the executive director of the New York-based Wildenstein-Plattner Institute (WPI), answered: “There are always going to be forgers, but there will also be astute forensic conservators who will be able to unmask their forgery.” In short, the overall gain in knowledge from openness will deal with such individual problems.

The WPI is the product of an alliance in 2016 between the art dealer Guy Wildenstein and Hasso Plattner, the philanthropic German software billionaire and collector of Impressionist art, Wildensteins core specialism.

The non-profit WPI, founded in 2017, is throwing open the legendary Wildenstein archives accumulated since Georges Wildenstein published the firms first catalogue raisonné in 1922.

All material relating to the following artists has been donated by the Wildenstein Institute to the WPI: Jean Béraud, Paul Gauguin, Camille Pissarro, Odilon Redon, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Édouard Manet, Albert Marquet, Claude Monet, Berthe Morisot, Kees Van Dongen, Maurice de Vlaminck and Édouard Vuillard. These archives will be digitised, categorised and cross-referenced according to the most sophisticated data-handling systems, while a team in Berlin is developing bespoke software for the project.

So, 100 years of annotated sale catalogues, letters and notes are being digitised to be made available to the public for free on the WPIs platform.

The developers are working on OCR (optical character recognition) software that will not only recognise when a sale catalogue has been annotated but will be able to distinguish between hands and “read” the writing. The WPI will share its software with other institutions such as the Getty Institute, with which it is already collaborating, and is working towards standardising the way in which organisations describe their art so that cross-searching of data is easier. It has chosen to be in New York because it is the centRead More – Source

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