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how to keep an artist’s work alive

Paul Cézanne in his studio at Les Lauves

how to keep an artist’s work alive?   — choose the right software

The Artist Estate: A Handbook for Artists, Executors, and Heirs, is a must read for artists, their family members and their heirs, artist’s studio managers, artist’s estate executives, artist-endowed foundation managers and board members, gallerists, and gallery/artist liason managers, service providers for artists’ estates, art lawyers & tax advisors, and all those who have a stake in the industry.

Edited by Loretta Würtenberger, co-founder of The Institute for Artists’ Estates in Berlin, this invaluable book offers “appropriate financial models, possible legal frameworks, as well as advice on how to properly handle the art market, museums, and academia.” A whole chapter entitled “How to Keep an Artist’s Work Alive?” is devoted to the catalogue raisonné enterprise.

Whether it provides an overview of the artist’s oeuvre in digital or print form, a catalogue raisonné establishes the fundamental categories of the art in the catalogue, as well as influences the way we discuss the art. Because it creates value, the originators and editors also carry a great ethical responsibility. In order to maintain the integrity of the artist and the authenticity of his or her work, the meticulous scholarly assessment must be carried out independent of any financial interests. “As a ‘register of reason,’ the work on the catalogue raisonné requires diligence more than intellectual brilliance,” remarks the art historian Anette Tietenberg, who works in Braunschweig. Yet the catalogue raisonné also requires more than organizational abilities, as it must harness “the power of facts to ensure
its future relevance.”

Today, a catalogue raisonné should be digitized; it almost goes without saying that online databases can be expanded and updated easily. Moreover, the scope of the online catalogue raisonné should encompass the following:

1. Links to internal archival material
2. Links to documentation such as checklists and exhibition photographs
3. The integration of video and audio materials
4. The possibility of incorporating negative or inconclusive results, so that the limits of previous research are well understood
5. Links to external sources such as archival holdings and press articles or other publications, as well as public search engines and databases.

… it is also imperative to select a database that can be used internally, but also provides a module for web publishing. Among other things, this module then helps determine which sets of information developed for internal use should be published online and for whom. [The New York archivist Caroline] Gabrielli recommends asking at the outset: Who should have full access to the catalogue raisonne? Should access only be local or should it be published on the web? Does the technology allow necessary information to be linked? How much does this particular solution cost? Does it necessitate ongoing technical support, or must separate IT providers be brought on?

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Whether you are starting a catalogue raisonné from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a package that will meet your exact needs.

   ”The Estate of David Smith is currently using panOpticon for our catalogue raisonné and archives databases and for more general inventory purposes.
“Although we don’t plan to publish the David Smith Sculpture catalogue raisonné online (it will be published as a three-volume book, by Yale University Press), we may decide post-publication to turn on the public-facing features of our panOpticon database in order to share updates and new finds.
“We’ve found panOpticon to be a remarkably good partner, working with us to migrate the data from our old system, and willing to add features and customize aspects of the basic panOpticon system so we could make it work well for our particular needs.”

 — Susan Cooke
Associate Director / The Estate of David Smith
David Smith Catalogue Raisonné

Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

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Above: Paul Cézanne in his studio at Les Lauves, in front of the Large Bathers now at the Barnes Foundation. Photo by Émile Bernard, 1904.

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Thomas Hart Benton + panOpticon

Thomas Hart Benton. Instruments of Power, 1908

the Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné project uses panOpticon tools

Born in 1889 in Neosho, Missouri, Thomas Hart Benton chose to follow a career in art, rather than politics, where his father and great-uncle, for whom he was named, had achieved prominence. Benton went to Chicago at age 19, studying at the Art Institute of Chicago for two years before going to Paris. There he encountered the work of artists such as Cézanne and Matisse, and the work of the cubists and synchronists, a group of painters who emphasized color as the means of creating form and energetic movement in their canvases. Moving to New York in 1913, Benton was producing paintings that displayed the principles of modernism he absorbed in Paris.

Benton continued to paint in a modernist mode until 1918, when he served as a draftsman in the U.S. Navy during World War I. Spending two years drawing realistic sketches and illustrations affected his style so profoundly that Benton abandoned modernism in favor of a more naturalistic depiction of his subjects, primarily American scenes. Between 1920 and 1924, he journeyed through the South and Midwest, drawing and painting the scenes he observed. By the end of the decade, his art was focused entirely on America and its people, and Benton became a leading American Regionalist artist, rejecting modernism as “foreign.” Using dramatic contrasts of dark and light and strong, mobile forms, his canvases burst with energy. These vigorous works mainly celebrate regional, small-town life, but his subjects also include Biblical and mythological scenes, often populated by what were regarded as typical American figures.

In 1935, Benton moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he spent the rest of his life, painting and teaching for many years at the Kansas City Art Institute. Benton’s art was well known for both its power and populist viewpoint, and he received numerous commissions for murals for public buildings, ranging from museums, to the Missouri State Capitol, to the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri. He had just completed a mural for the Country Music Foundation in Nashville, Tennessee, at the time of his death in 1975.

— Biography © American Art @ The Phillips Collection

Above: Thomas Hart Benton. Instruments of Power, one of ten panels from America Today, 1930–31. Egg tempera with oil glazing over Permalba on a gesso ground on linen mounted to wood with a honeycomb interior. The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Gift of AXA Equitable, 2012 (2012.478a). Photo courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 909.

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We at panOpticon are extremely proud that the Thomas Hart Benton catalogue raisonné project uses our information management system.

Starting a catalogue raisonné project? Already have data and wondering what to do next? Simply have a question? Email us at enquire@panopticondesign.net.

The best way to fully grasp what our product can do is to see it in action. Fill out a form to request a demonstration. We can come to you if you are in New York City. If not, we can demonstrate our software online. We’ll show it to you wherever you are.

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Moholy-Nagy at LACMA


László Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy Untitled 1925

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)    February 12 – June 18, 2017

The first comprehensive retrospective of the work of László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) to appear in the United States in nearly fifty years, this long overdue presentation reveals a utopian artist who believed that art could work hand-in-hand with technology for the betterment of humanity. The exhibition presents an unparalleled opportunity to examine the career of this pioneering painter, photographer, sculptor, and filmmaker as well as graphic, exhibition, and stage designer, who was also an influential teacher at the Bauhaus, a prolific writer, and later the founder of Chicago’s Institute of Design. Among his radical innovations were experimentation with cameraless photography; the use of industrial materials in painting and sculpture; research with light, transparency, and movement; work at the forefront of abstraction; and the fluidity with which he moved between the fine and applied arts. The exhibition includes more than 300 collages, drawings, ephemera, films, paintings, photograms, photographs, photomontages, and sculptures, including works from public and private collections across Europe and the United States, some of which have never before been shown publicly in the U.S. Also on display is the ‘Room of the Present,’ a contemporary fabrication of an exhibition space originally conceived by Moholy-Nagy in 1930. It includes photographic reproductions, films, slides, and replicas of architecture, theater and industrial design including a 2006 replica of his kinetic ‘Light Prop for an Electric Stage’ (1930). Though never realized during his lifetime, ‘The Room of the Present’ illustrates Moholy’s belief in the power of images and various means by which to view them—a highly relevant paradigm in today’s constantly shifting and evolving technological world.

Above: László Moholy-Nagy. Room of the Present (Raum der Gegenwart), constructed in 2009 from plans and other documentation dated 1930 Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven © 2016 Hattula Moholy-Nagy/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York Photo: Peter Cox, courtesy Art Resource, New York.

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We at panOpticon are extremely proud that the Moholy-Nagy catalogue raisonné project uses our content management system.

Whether you are starting a catalogue from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

Willard Metcalf Uses Our Tools


Willard Metcalf. Garden of Dreams, 1908

The Willard Metcalf catalogue raisonné project uses panOpticon tools

“Willard L. Metcalf (1858–1925), born of working-class parents in Lowell, Massachusetts, studied in Boston at age seventeen with landscapist George Loring Brown and later worked at the museum school. Financial success as a book and magazine illustrator enabled him to travel to Paris and study at the Académie Julian under the conservative tutelage of Boulanger. In 1886 he was the first American painter to spend time at Giverny within the aura of Monet impressionists, but the new style seems to have had little effect on him.

“Returning home he spent several years as a portraitist and illustrator and taught many seasons at the Cooper Institute in New York. During these years he led a fitful personal life, with broken marriages and a record of alcoholism. In 1904 he withdrew from society and spent a year in the Maine woods, thinking, painting, and ‘drying out’. The effect was revelatory and gave fresh direction and motivation to his efforts. He called it his “Impressionist Renaissance,” and he became dedicated to painting the New England landscape with more vibrant, expressive brushwork and a more colorful palette.

“Now one of the Ten American Painters, he joined Childe Hassam at Old Lyme, Connecticut, for several years, moving the participants in that community from a tonalist to a more impressionist style. Several seasons were spent with the Cornish, New Hampshire, colony but generally he roamed throughout the New England countryside painting its splendors winter and summer. The “poet laureate” of the New England hills became his popular cognomen. Working often within an unconventional square format, he painted broad, light-filled, delicately colored views of the hills and villages of New England.”

— Smithsonian American Art Museum

Above: Willard Metcalf. Garden of Dreams, 1908. Oil on canvas, 24 x 24 in. (61 x 61 cm). Signed and dated lower left: W. L Metcalf 1908. Private collection, Pennsylvania.

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We at panOpticon are extremely proud that the Willard Metcalf catalogue raisonné project uses our content management system.

Whether you are starting a catalogue from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

NYARC reaches across the globe


archiving websites for research communities across the globe

NYARC (the New York Art Resources Consortium) unites the collections of the Frick Art Reference Library, the Brooklyn Museum Libraries & Archives, and the Museum of Modern Art Library. With funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Consortium was formed in 2006 to facilitate collaboration that results in enhanced resources to research communities.

Launched in 2009, ARCADE unites the collections of the three libraries under a single search. Containing more than 1 million records, ARCADE provides access to research collections spanning the spectrum of art history, from ancient Egypt to contemporary art. These resources, many uniquely held, include exhibition and art collection catalogs, monographs and periodicals, rare books, photograph collections, artists’ books, files on artists, auction catalogs, archives (textual and visual), digital resources and specialized databases.

ARCADE also links outside to The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s online catalog Watsonline, and to the International Art Discovery Group Catalogue.

A 2012 pilot study, also funded by The Mellon Foundation, demonstrated that the types of materials the NYARC libraries had been collecting in printed form were increasingly migrating to online versions available exclusively on the web. It concluded that there was an urgent need to document the dynamic web-based versions of auction catalogues, catalogues raisonnés, and scholarly research projects, as well as artist, gallery, and museum websites, because otherwise there is a real and imminent danger of a “digital black hole” in the art historical record.

panOpticon is proud to participate in this important documentation project. To date NYARC has archived six sites that use our software to power their catalogues raisonnés:

Paul Cézanne

Edwin Dickinson

John F. Folinsbee

Fitz Henry Lane

Joaquín Torres-Garcia

Jack Tworkov

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Whether you are starting a catalogue raisonné from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

Protect the Legacy Now


The Artist Legacy

Artists should plan early on to protect their heirs along with their legacies

“Artists frequently die before having organized their work, creating both difficulty in ascertaining how to distribute the pieces (to heirs, museums, etc.) and also allowing for the possibility of authenticity disputes. Creating a catalogue [raisonné] is something artists should avoid leaving to their senior years, according to [Loretta] Würtenberger.* ‘The more specific thoughts an artist develops during their lifetime, the easier it is later,’ she says, citing a recent conversation she had with an artist in his late forties who is represented by a large gallery and produces very technical art. ‘He is asking us to structure the whole question of a database for his studio.’ That database will become a resource for questions of authenticity as well as serving as a repository for the artist’s technical know-how—something that’s useful even while the artist is alive. ‘It’s interesting how somebody of our generation is already thinking about the posthumous phase,” she says, “and how these thoughts have consequences for what he’s doing today.’”

— from an Artsy editorial: “What Artists Should Do to Protect Their Legacies before Dying.”

*Loretta Würtenberger, co-founder of the newly launched Institute for Artists’ Estates in Berlin, is a contributor to the book The Artist Estate: A Handbook for Artists, Executors, and Heirs.

“Adam Sheffer, president of the Art Dealers Association of America [ADAA], says that talking to artists about estate planning and archiving is now a ‘standard part of the dialogue’ at many galleries. ‘When you begin a career and you start to have work enter the market, you have to think about everything as specific as archiving, as keeping extremely careful records, because down the road when it comes to the value of your foundation and issues around authenticity, the earlier you start the better,’ he says.”

— from the Financial Times, “How an artist’s legacy became big business,” August 26, 2016.

Above : David Smith, Tanktotem IV, 1953, 7/29/53, 1953, and Tanktotem III, 1953, Bolton Landing Dock, Lake George, New York, photo by the artist, c. 1953. Gelatin silver print, sheet size: 8 x 10 in. (20.3 x 25.4 cm).
© Estate of David Smith / Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

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Whether you are starting a catalogue raisonné from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

Another Side of Lyonel Feininger


News Release: Lyonel Feininger’s Comic Strips Celebrated this Summer

NEW YORK – Moeller Fine Art Projects is pleased to announce “Pioneers of the Comic Strip: A Different Avant-Garde” at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt am Main from June 23 to September 18, 2016. The exhibition will present approximately 230 pages of rare comic strips and related works, created between 1905 and the 1940s, by the early masters of comic strip art including Winsor McCay, Lyonel Feininger, Charles Forbell, Cliff Sterrett, George Herriman, and Frank King. The show intends to provide an overview of the stylistic developments within the medium, as well as to explore its relationship with the fine arts.

While the two series The Kin-der-Kids and Wee Willie Winkie’s World—which Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) began in 1906 for The Chicago Sunday Tribune—were published for less than one year, they contributed a new artistic perspective. Feininger’s works will be prominently featured in the exhibition, including more than thirty works lent by Achim Moeller.

Alongside this exhibition, Moeller Fine Art Projects is also pleased to announce the publication of Your Uncle Feininger: Comic Strips for The Chicago Sunday Tribune (Kerber Verlag) by Achim Moeller and Sebastian Ehlert, designed by Philippe Apeloig and Yannick James. The book will include the complete run of Feininger’s comic strips for the first time together with previously unpublished preliminary drawings, as well as nature studies. Printed in German and English with a comprehensive introduction based on original sources and related newspaper articles, it will offer an in-depth look into the artist’s practice.

For further details, please contact The Lyonel Feininger Project or call (212) 644-2133.

Above: Lyonel Feininger, The Kin-der Kids in the Family Bathtub, 1906. Color crayons, ink, and pencil on paper,
9 3/8 x 17 5/16 in (23.8 x 44 cm)

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We at panOpticon are honored that Moeller Fine Art Projects uses our innovative software to manage the Lyonel Feininger catalogue raisonné.

Whether you are starting a catalogue from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

And check out our blog — catalog(ue) — a forum whose purpose is to help close the gap between traditional cataloging practices and the challenges we face when we use developing digital technologies to publish online.

Strategy for Foundation Leaders


László Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy Untitled 1925

panOpticon pays tribute to the next generation of Artist Heritage Stewards

“Bearing names such as Frankenthaler, Haring, Lichtenstein, Mapplethorpe, Mitchell, Pollock-Krasner, Rauschenberg, and Warhol, private foundations created by visual artists are a rapidly emerging force in cultural philanthropy and in artistic heritage stewardship. The Seminar on Strategy for New Artist-Endowed Foundation Leaders, presented collaboratively by The Aspen Institute Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative (AEFI) and University of Miami School of Law (UMSL), supports the professional development of individuals who currently have, or will have, new policy-setting and leadership responsibilities for artist-endowed foundations—directors, officers, trustees, board members, senior staff—and orients them to the characteristics of these distinctive organizations.

“AEFI aims to strengthen the next generation of artist-endowed foundations by increasing the capacity of these new entities to fulfill their founders’ charitable intentions. AEFI’s strategy is to address the significant information gap facing foundation creators as well as those who lead, govern and advise foundations. This strategy is grounded in the findings of the National Study of Artist-Endowed Foundations, AEFI’s principal research component, and implemented through ongoing programs of research, publications, leadership education, and events to share knowledge with key audiences.

“Site visits and sessions with seasoned foundation leaders are central to the curriculum. By building the capacity of new leaders, the Seminar advances AEFI’s mission to strengthen the charitable impact of the emerging artist-endowed foundation field.”
Click here to read more.

This year’s Seminar was held June 6–10, 2016 in New York City and was hosted by the Dedalus Foundation, the Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and the Isamu Noguchi Foundation & Garden Museum. The Art Dealers Association of America Foundation (ADAA) sponsored the welcoming reception and panOpticon sponsored the closing celebration.

The AEFI Lead Underwriters are ARIS, DeWitt Stern, and U.S. Trust.

Above: This year’s AEFI Certificate recipients at the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation. Photo ©2015 Scott Rudd

Moholy-Nagy at Guggenheim


László Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy Untitled 1925

Moholy-Nagy: Future Present

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum    New York    May 27 – September 7, 2016

The first comprehensive retrospective of the work of László Moholy-Nagy (1895–1946) to appear in the United States in nearly fifty years, this long overdue presentation reveals a utopian artist who believed that art could work hand-in-hand with technology for the betterment of humanity. The exhibition presents an unparalleled opportunity to examine the career of this pioneering painter, photographer, sculptor, and filmmaker as well as graphic, exhibition, and stage designer, who was also an influential teacher at the Bauhaus, a prolific writer, and later the founder of Chicago’s Institute of Design. Among his radical innovations were experimentation with cameraless photography; the use of industrial materials in painting and sculpture; research with light, transparency, and movement; work at the forefront of abstraction; and the fluidity with which he moved between the fine and applied arts. The exhibition includes more than 300 collages, drawings, ephemera, films, paintings, photograms, photographs, photomontages, and sculptures, including works from public and private collections across Europe and the United States, some of which have never before been shown publicly in the U.S. Also on display is the ‘Room of the Present,’ a contemporary fabrication of an exhibition space originally conceived by Moholy-Nagy in 1930. It includes photographic reproductions, films, slides, and replicas of architecture, theater and industrial design including a 2006 replica of his kinetic ‘Light Prop for an Electric Stage’ (1930). Though never realized during his lifetime, ‘The Room of the Present’ illustrates Moholy’s belief in the power of images and various means by which to view them—a highly relevant paradigm in today’s constantly shifting and evolving technological world.

Above: László Moholy-Nagy and Lucia Moholy Untitled (detail) 1925
Gelatin silver print, 3 11/16 x 2 1/2″ (9.3 x 6.3 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, NY. Thomas Walther Collection. The Family of Man Fund (1791. 2001). © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.

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We at panOpticon are extremely proud that the Moholy-Nagy catalogue raisonné project uses our content management system.

Whether you are starting a catalogue from scratch, or looking for a more robust product for your current data, panOpticon has a software package that will meet your needs. Contact us to schedule a demonstration.

And check out our blog — catalog(ue) — a forum whose purpose is to help close the gap between traditional cataloging practices and the challenges we face when we use developing digital technologies to publish online.

Toys and Torres-García


toy elephant Joaquín Torres-García

News Release: Toys in the JTG Catalogue Raisonné

NEW YORK, NY — To celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of the Joaquín Torres-García Catalogue Raisonné, CECILIA DE TORRES LTD is pleased to announce that the artist’s toy production is now available online.

Combining play with pedagogy, Torres-García designed toys for children throughout much of his career. Over two hundred models ranging from locomotives to circus animals to a multi-figure café scene have been identified as belonging to his oeuvre.

The toys have been classified within the catalogue raisonné with a “T” number that reflects their period of production, such that works beginning with “T1.” date to the artist’s Barcelona years, c. 1917-1919; “T2.” date to his years in New York, c.1920-1922; “T3.” date to his period in Italy, c. 1924-1926; and “T4.” his years in Paris, c. 1927-1932.

When available, photographs of the toys positioned in multiple arrangements demonstrate their flexibility and interactivity. Supplemental diagrams, designed by Torres-García for the packaging of his toys, illustrate the various combinations that he envisioned, and are included within the catalogue raisonné records. Such characteristics reveal Torres-García’s aim for his toys as educational and developmental tools. Additionally, many of the toys are cross-referenced with catalogues, published and distributed by the toy companies Francisco Rambla (1919) and Aladdin (1922-1923).

As with the paintings and sculptures recorded in the catalogue raisonné, the provenance, exhibition history, and literature references are recorded for each toy, and further research remains ongoing. Research on the toy production has been led by Cecilia de Torres assisted by Madeline Murphy Turner, with Susanna V. Temkin.

In addition to the toys, in the one year that the catalogue raisonné has been available, research on the paintings and sculptures has remained ongoing. Numerous supplementary references have been added, including:

  • The identification of a new painting
  • Over one hundred new exhibition references
  • Approximately four hundred new literature sources
  • Thus far over 1,000 users have accessed the site, with new registrants added every day.

Access to the catalogue raisonné is free and available to the public at the website — Joaquín Torres-García Catalogue Raisonné

We continue to invite owners of works by Joaquín Torres-García to submit paintings and sculptures for inclusion in the catalogue raisonné of his oeuvre. Please contact info@torresgarcia.com