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Photo credits: Andrea Gavinelli
The art market is constantly changing. The way of collecting has evolved in recent years, moving away from specialization towards a mixture of genres, seeking for epiphanies and “correspondences of amorous senses”.
The recently concluded Brussels Art Fair (BRAFA) 2019, fully understood this trend.
BRAFA has always been heterogeneous, with twenty different specialties, covering the most diverse areas, from archaeology to contemporary art, and without groupings in sections within the exhibition, (as at TEFAF, for example); last year already, the concept of an eclectic Wunderkammer was on display at BRAFA, thanks to the newcomer Theatrum Mundi. That idea has been the most recognizable figure of the fair this year.
In a time of rapid expansion of horizons, thanks to geographical and scientific discoveries, collecting and showing natural and artificial wonders was the aim of the Renaissance “studiolo”, as much as of the Cabinets of Curiosities, which appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries in high-class families, often a first step towards the establishment of museums.
The desire to flabbergast visitors remains, but the current push seems more to be the desire to mix, a kind of globalization, but also a claim to the right to overturn the hierarchy of classical values and question the division into genres; perhaps a refusal to accept an orderly view of the world that ultimately failed.
The response to the eclecticism of the actual taste at Brafa was to be found in many exhibits who expanded the concept of Wunderkammer proposing, possibly to interest new collectors, many curiosities with affordable prices but with refined taste, different from the contemporary artworks that usually attract the younger audience. But it also echoed in the “room of wonders” filled with the most prestigious pieces ever traded, proposed by the Royal Chamber of Art Dealers of Belgium, to celebrate 100 years since its foundation.
The other remarkable aspect of this edition was the gradual but inexorable path towards contemporary art. Contemporary art galleries, although they still did not outnumber those of ancient art, were bigger and more visible.
The president of BRAFA in recent interviews reported how difficult it is to renew and extend the offer in old masters. Quality candidates in this area appear to be numerically inferior to those of contemporary and modern art. The only exception this year was Sandro Morelli’s Gallery (Italian, based in Florence) a new entry presenting medieval art.
The report published on the website states that Morelli sold a late fifteenth-century Lombard wooden safe, whose price was around 120,000 euros. The report is an interesting read (click on the link to see it), for comparison with the performances of the other exhibitors and in general for the large number of sales occurred, many of a high quality level.
And if the past, the flabbergasting was often due to “famous Hoaxes” (fakes specially fabricated), at BRAFA they currently openly try to avoid the risk of fakes with a vetting commission of 100 experts to cover the various disciplines.
However, in only one case we saw that test results exposed (a C14 analysis to confirm the dating of a 16th century Madonna).
Can the attraction for small objects also depend on the fact that no one wants to risk large sums in assets for which there is no established way to be sure of authorship and therefore of value?
The 4th edition of the Master in Legal Archeology and Crimes against Cultural Heritage, based in Rome, will begin in March 2018.
This course, organized by the CSC, “Center for Criminological, Legal and Sociological Studies” of Viterbo, in collaboration with the “Osservatorio Internazionale Archeomafie”, aims to prepare professional profiles on the objectives, modus operandi, strategies and dynamics of criminal organizations dedicated to theft and illicit international trafficking of cultural heritage works. Since last year, Art–Test has the pleasure of being part of the teaching staff of the Master, which includes both training meetings, in the classroom and in the field, and individual work of distance learning and research.
From the 2nd edition, part of the teaching focuses on the scientific techniques of evaluation and recognition of works of art; here Art-Test brings its contribution to this course.
In January and November 2017 we spoke about the scientific techniques that can be used for the dating of artistic and architectural assets, and the use of instrumental analysis for the identification of origin and the recognition of fakes.
Art-Test presented several case studies, to demonstrate how these techniques are used in real situations. We have underlined the importance of a correct and careful interpretation of data, which requires both meticulous comparisons between the different types of analyses carried out and the knowledge of each scientific technique. Furthermore, it is essential to formulate a step-by-step diagnostic plan, carefully prepared according to each specific situation.
For more information on this interesting course:
From June 15th to August 10th, the PALP (Palazzo Pretorio di Pontedera) will host the exhibition “Goya and Guido Reni. Art Treasures at the Palp”. Two intense self-portraits of Goya, one of 1771 and the other of 1782 will be shown to the public after years of specialist study, accompanied by the diagnostic campaign conducted by Art-Test. The scientific data will be given great relevance and the results will be exposed to the audience who will so be invited to participate in the discovery of these intriguing works of art.
These works, after this Tuscan preview, will be exhibited, together with other paintings of the Spanish genius, in 2018 in St. Petersburg at the Hermitage Museum. In Pontedera, the two portraits will also be joined by a painting by Guido Reni, “Susanna and the Oldies”, that belongs to the artist’s mature age.
The exhibition is promoted by the Pontedera Culture Foundation
(http://www.pontederaperlacultura.it/la-fondazione/ or https://www.facebook.com/PontederaperlaCultura/) and the municipality of Pontedera.
An opportunity not to let go!
Is it Michelangelo? Are we on the verge of a new discovery?
Art-Test has been called to shed light on the matter in a small church near Florence
Who painted the “Pietà di Marcialla”? The issue has been debated for many years, but only on last 9th of May the first analyses were carried out on the wall painting in Santa Maria a Marcialla, a small church on the Florentine countryside.
Despite its remote location, the painting is of remarkable quality and some scholars believe it to be the work of Michelangelo Buonarroti. So finally the Municipality of Barberino Val d’Elsa decided to investigate the claim, by promoting objective studies conducted with scientific devices.
Art-Test Florence, in charge of the investigations, during the first survey could confirm the presence of many incisions to be connected with the transferring of the preparatory drawing onto the wall and, moreover, the existence of some “pentimenti” concerning e.g. the lower arm and the left leg of Christ. Furthermore, new details emerged from a first careful examination of the painting, e.g. the depiction of a city walled with towers, located between the Good Thief and Our Lady.
Much more needs investigation. It is not yet clear, e.g., which pictorial technique was used to perform the work, i.e. whether it is a real “fresco” or not. Moreover, based on the analyses made so far, it is not certain whether it was painted only by one hand or more painters contributed. This first diagnostic campaign was only the first act of the full scientific campaign that awaits this painting. The town of Barberino Val d’Elsa, by the will of its Mayor Trentanovi, shall support the next studies meant to fully understand the genesis of the work, the adopted art techniques , the material composition of the painting and the possible overlay of more versions. Eager to find out more? So are we! We will keep you up to date!
It is not, and it was not, a common practice to make full size models for statues. But apparently Giambologna (Jean de Boulogne), at the time of this commission for Piazza della Signoria in Florence, was best known for “small” things, and he wanted to immediately silence who did not trust his abilities to work with bigger dimensions.
So he proved himself in large statuary already at the time of presenting a model, et voilat: a giant sculpture 4 meters tall was produced. But how did he do? What techniques and what materials did he use?
In 2013 Art-Test Florence, along with other research organizations and companies specialized in diagnostic applied to cultural heritage, was involved in the campaign designed to provide the complex analyses of the model of the Rape of the Sabine Women, now at the Galleria dell’ Accademia in Florence, with the objective to answer such questions. The model is in terra cruda, i.e. raw clay, having indeed the same size of the marble work, you can admire the Loggia dei Lanzi in Piazza della Signoria in Florence. However the model is not identical. Do you want to know more? It is now possible to access all the results of diagnostic tests performed and the history of its restoration. They are now all published by Syllables in the book “It ratto delle Sabine e il suo restauro “. Inside it there are notes on the history of the artwork and on the restoration performed. It is not easy to synthesize the amount of information contained in the volume so we invite you to read it and find out how a simple “bozzetto” is actually a work of refined technical inventiveness. Jean de Boulogne really knew his business.
We have chosen a new, more prestigious location. The new building ,Palazzo Frescobaldi, is way more central,with just a 5 min walk from Ponte Vecchio, but more importantly it offers an increased security level for our customers, thanks to a 24/7 guard at the entrance .
We will throw a party in spring to celebrate, as currently too many activities keep up busy and around the world… for your service!
The new address is:
Art-Test, Via Santo Spirito 11-13, 50125 Firenze.
Our telephone number will remain the same: 0039 055 2286478
Looking forward to welcoming you here!
The wonderful “Female Head” of Leonardo, also known as “Scapigliata” or “Lady of disheveled hair” preserved at the National Gallery of Parma, represented for Leonardo da Vinci a sort of manifesto of his status of excellent painter and, at the same time, a sort of a safe-conduct for his habit of not finishing his paintings, according to the latest research of Carmen Bambach, published on the occasion of the extremely intersting exhibition “Unfinished” at the MET of New York. In fact, it would seem that Leonardo wanted to compare himself with Apelles of Kos, the legendary ancient Greek painter. In a book that Leonardo is known to have owned, Pliny wrote that the Apelles had worked on a Venus without being able to bring it to completion, remaining however, despite this “failure”, the greatest painter ever existed, and rather “inventing” the “unfinished” genre.
Art-Test has performed investigations on the Scapigliata at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) of New York, to evaluate its conservation status before its transfer to Paris, for the exhibition “Leonardo in France – The Master and his Pupils 500 years after crossing the Alps. 1516-2016”, open at the Italian Embassy till November 20, 2016.
Art-Test has also performed analysis on two other of the most important paintings on display in Paris: the “Saint John” of Salaì of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana of Milan and the “Salvator Mundi” (or “Head of Christ”) also currently generally attributed to his favorite assistant and friend Salaì but by other eminent scholars reputed of being by the hand of Leonardo himself.
The reflectographies of these great artworks, together with many other diagnostic images are published with considerable size and quality in the catalogue of the exhibition.
For Art-Test, the Aiar appointment is double. If you have missed the interesting workshop on Caravaggio last April in Empoli, you can take the opportunity to see the work of Art-Test in conjunction with S.T. Art-Test entitled “Caravaggio or not Caravaggio? Preliminary scientific evidence for the attribution of the St. John the Baptist of Empoli (Tuscany)”. How many of sensational discoveries news are given when it comes to names such as Caravaggio, however, without the support of an adequate system of preliminary studies? The infrared analysis on Empoli version of San Giovanni Battista discloses important factual discoveries; the debate is open: the scientific data can really make a difference and rewrite the entire history of a painting!
For the complete program of the congress AIAr: