Alex M Wolff

Super Exciting Work

Art Authentication Photos for a new find.

You may know I film sharks around the world, yet that is not my most exciting work. Photographing art for art auctions and art galleries is.

Earlier this week my friend Adam Zimmerman of Syl-Lee Antiques put me in touch with a mutual contact that is a leader in the art auction world. I was in East Meadow at World Auction Gallery where I was hired to take photos to help authenticate a large painting that was recently found in a warehouse in New York City.

Even though the piece was signed by the artist, World Auction Gallery partner Ben Nejat is having the piece authenticated so his client can get the maximum value of the sale, and the buyer has 100 percent confidence that the painting is indeed an original.

I was thrilled to be in front of an unknown work of a popular artist. I am honored to be entrusted with a critical, but by no means final step of the authenticity certification process.  After finding the art, photographs are the next step. Details need to be captured as accurately as possible as they are vital for authentication.

The Photography

As this was a color painting, and the artist may use the same colors in multiple works. To ensure color accuracy, I photographed the painting using 2 different light sources in separate series.  We used the day light fluorescent light fixtures in the gallery, the light the painting us viewed on a daily basis.   All lights and camera can have shifts in color. I use an X-rite Color Checker Passport for white balance. I shoot the color grid in a second photo.

The color grid allows Adobe Lightroom on my IMAC Pro to calibrate the images produced on the sensor of my Nikon D850 to industry standard colors. I repeated the process for the second series of photos lighted with my ProFoto studio lights.  In both series, I used my Seconic light meter to ensure equal lighting on the corners, edges and in the middle of the painting.

What to capture

Considered critical for authenticating this particular work, I captured the whole artwork, the signature, the relationship of the signature to the edge, various washes, and pieces of the painting that resemble details of some other known paintings by this artist. The back of the painting has to be photographed although there were no discerning marks. One photo included wooden rulers to reflect the scale and size of the painting, as other works by the artist were very similar in size.

The final steps from my side are supplying hi res files, as well as 8×10 prints and transparencies to submit to the authenticator.  Ben will complete the application and pay the fees.

My fingers are crossed that Ben receives certification, as without that even if the painting is genuine, it will never be valued as such. I’ll be sure to let you know the results.  Either way, this careful attention to the details is one of the reasons collectors sell and buy through World Auction Gallery.

1 reply »

Leave a Reply