art market

The Art of Seeing - Photography and painting converge in Alice Gur-Arie’s work

The Art of Seeing - Photography and painting converge in Alice Gur-Arie’s work

Digitally hand re-painting her photographs from around the world, Alice invites viewers to replace the window through which they see the world, with a lens that interprets "reality" into something familiar yet foreign.

Philip Mould & Co. and Tagsmart... Yep, that just happened!

We are delighted to have been featured in Melanie Gerlis’ column in the FT Collecting supplement this past weekend announcing our strategic partnership with British and Old Masters dealer Philip Mould and his prestigious London gallery.

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A selection of the gallery’s artworks will be marked with Philip Mould-branded tags, and accompanied by its Certificate of Authenticity and secure digital record. The first artworks to be tagged will be by Sir Cedric Lockwood Morris.

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Philip Mould OBE explains that “there is now an increasing need to inject security and confidence into the art market. The art world, particularly 20th-century art, is in peril of fakery.”

The leading art specialist and co-presenter of BBC’s Fake or Fortune? will also contribute his extensive knowledge in art conservation, restoration and issues of authenticity to the ongoing development of Tagsmart’s products and services. Tom Toumazis MBE, Chairman of Tagsmart said: “To have the opportunity to work with the Philip Mould gallery and also welcome Philip as one of our Strategic Advisors is a significant step in the development of our business.”

Picture perfect for collectors

When it comes to fine art photography, sometimes what you pay for may not be what you get.

Using a camera obscura (a latin term meaning literally ‘dark room’), Nicéphore Niépce produced the first permanent photoetching in 1822, but it was only four years later that the French inventor made the View from the Window at Le Gras, the world’s oldest surviving camera photograph.

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Not long after Niépce’s death in 1833, Louis Daguerre developed the Daguerreotype, the first commercially successful photographic process which reduced the development time from hours to seconds. An international sensation, the popularisation of this technique gave rise to speculations about the “end of painting”. 

In that same period, American pioneer of photography Robert Cornelius produced the earliest surviving selfie (1839) and painter and inventor Hércules Florence had started working out a silver-salt-based paper process in Brazil, later naming it photographie.

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Meanwhile, British inventor William Fox Talbot developed a different process called Calotype (from the Greek kalos, meaning ‘beautiful’ and tupos meaning ‘impression’). Using paper sheets covered with silver chloride to create a negative exposure, it was then placed in contact with another paper so as to print multiple positive copies. This technique is actually very similar to the photographic process in use today.

Making a long story short, almost fifty years later, American inventor George Eastman patented the first photographic roll film and perfected his camera to take advantage of his invention. By 1892, Eastman founded Kodak, and soon after launched the Brownie camera with a price of US$1, bringing, therefore, photography to the mass market (‘You press the button, we do the rest!’).

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Since then, the photography market has experienced a growing technological evolution with the establishment of colour film as a standard, auto-focus, and automatic exposure. These innovations undoubtedly made it easier to capture an image, improve the quality of reproductions and accelerate the processing speed.

From the end of the 20th-century, digital photography minimised costs, sped up processes and facilitated the production, manipulation, storage and distribution of images. However, these technological advances also facilitated the production and circulation of forgeries. 

With so many artists using photography but so few of them printing their own work, forgeries by underpaid darkroom technicians are a common, especially in the vulnerable contemporary market. How problematic the fine art photography forgery has become can be illustrated by recent scandals involving counterfeit prints by Man Ray, Lewis Hine and Crespy Le Prince.

As the number of copies is virtually limitless with today’s printing capabilities, defining an ‘original photograph’ is of great importance. 

Here are some ways to determine the originality of a photographic work:
• Original photographs will have provenance information, including its copyright, typically documented on a Certificate of Authenticity.
• If the artwork is has a Smart Tag, check its tag number on the Tagsmart online platform. Each Smart Tag has its own unique reference number, linked to the work’s secure Certificate of Authenticity and its digital counterpart. Designed to assure the genuineness of artworks, warrant the accuracy of ownership status, and protect buyers and sellers against fakes and forgeries, Tagsmart offers the art market a better, simpler way of doing what it already does, while also solving the problems of trust and credibility.
• If the photograph is labelled as a reproduction, it probably means that the photographer had little (or nothing) to do with the printing, distribution, and selling of that work.
• Finally, accept that if the photograph is priced very cheaply, it is most likely a reproduction.