The Afterlife of Sculptures: Posthumous Casts in Scholarship, the Market, and the Law
Organized by: Dr. Sharon Hecker and Katy Rogers
Date: May 1-2, 2018, 9:30am to 5:00pm
Hosted by: The Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association
Location: The Dedalus Foundation, 25 East 21st Street, 4th Floor, NY, NY 10010
A detailed schedule will be posted mid-March with registration information.
Posthumous casts made from an artist’s lifetime models represent a complex issue for art historians, museums, art foundations, auction houses, curators, collectors, conservators, art lawyers and the art market. The question of how to evaluate and write about these casts is also of vital importance for those working on catalogues raisonnés. The intent of this conference is to share different concerns and viewpoints as well as to come up with new ideas about how to exhibit, label and designate posthumous casts within an artist’s oeuvre.
While posthumous casts have existed since antiquity, the attitude towards them has changed dramatically over time. Today’s negative view of posthumous casts is culturally and historically conditioned by modern concerns about artistic integrity and commercial exploitation. The term “posthumous" is rarely mentioned on museum websites or in auction catalogues. Defining and interpreting “authenticity" and “originality" in the case of posthumous casts is extremely complex. Numerous relevant questions need to be asked. For example, does authenticity and originality reside in the model, the casts, or both? A related question is where to locate meaning for posthumous casts. Should catalogues raisonnés strive to emphasize differences in quality between lifetime casts which they designate as “original" and “authentic” and posthumous casts which they term “copies" or “reproductions”? Art Foundations for modern and contemporary art often designate a further difference between authorized and unauthorized casts. Questions arise about the difference in aesthetic level, spiritual and market value and legal definition of posthumous casts. Does the existing definition intend to mean that the posthumous cast is in itself not a well cast object, being legally authorized but not made or supervised by the artist? Is there a single standard of quality by which to measure these works? There is no scholarly or institutional consensus about how to label these casts, or whether to display them or circulate them in exhibitions. How do intermediaries such as auction houses attribute these works? How can a buyer or collector understand their status and value? What conflicts arise between art history, the art market and the law, the latter of which demand from experts a clear answer to the question of authenticity and attribution? Are these questions addressed similarly by the laws of different countries?