A year has passed, we have 12 months behind us in which our life and our work have changed.
Looking back to understand the present is part of our work, as is the careful study of the “back” of a painting.
Very often the “verso”, “back” of a work makes the “front”, the “recto” more understandable. We know that artists from the 15th century began to sign their works on the front, but in recent times many chose to put their signature on the back, also indicating a date.
But in addition to the signature, true or fake, on the back we can find stamps, labels, codes: each of these elements is an important fact in the reconstruction of the work’s past.
Codes referable to the cataloguing in a collection or to lot number in an auction. Stamps imposed by protection offices or customs and labels of various kinds. But even this kind of data can be forged. The first doubts may arise during a careful condition report, but specific diagnostic analyses can be targeted to understand if they are original elements. For example, a colour label, created with a dot matrix printer, cannot be produced for an exhibition in 1975 !
Perhaps not everyone knows that the court case of one of the most famous contemporary counterfeiters: Wolfgang Beltracchi (born Wolfgang Fisher), began with a label on the back of a painting bearing the words “Collection Flechtheim“, when it was known that Flectheim was indeed an important collector, but never put labels.
In short, looking at the back is as important as studying the front. Knowing a “verse” well, helps us to better understand the “front”. In the same way we must look at this past year with attention to understand well our present and thus try to imagine our future.