data analysis

real value lies in usability


contribute to a more coherent understanding of an artist’s legacy

The panOpticon Information Management System enables provenance researchers to collect, analyze, document, and curate all known data around the artworks of an individual artist and make them useful for others to discover, retrieve, interpret, and reuse.

In addition, investigators are able to create primary, secondary, and supplementary metadata, as well as reports, commentaries, essays, and links to internal and external resources. Our system provides ample space to manage digital assets and research notes, while it automatically maintains timestamps and searchable revision histories.

The design challenge for panOpticon is not to simply control the self-organizing process, as some tools attempt to do, but to facilitate the emergence of higher-level outcomes e.g., more coherent understanding, accountability, access control, communication, and exchange of information.

Usable information is of vital importance to the entire art industry.


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Above from left to right: Roy Lichtenstein drawing from the projection for the mural. © Estate of Roy Lichtenstein. Photography by Michael Abramson, courtesy Gagosian Gallery; Roy Lichtenstein, Times Square-42nd Street, 2002 (Collage 1990, fabricated 1994). Porcelain enamel on wall of N, Q, R, S, W, 1, 2, 3 mezzanine; Susannah Shepherd of panOpticon (right) working with Andrea Theil, Director of the Roy Lichtenstein Catalogue Raisonné Project at the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, New York City. Photography © panOpticon.

scholarship depends on good data

researchers curate data so that
scholars may address the challenges that face us all

The leading Tom Thomson scholar, Joan Murray was responsible for bringing the paintings of this visionary Canadian painter to world’s attention through a series of exhibitions and books, including a biography. She has prepared a full-scale catalogue raisonné of his work, a project which took her close to forty years. (read more about Joan)

“In 1970, I began this catalogue raisonné of Thomson’s work and I have continued it until 2009. As I worked, I became convinced that Thomson’s achievement had the almost too classic prerequisites of greatness: an indelible yet flexible visual style that extended the past, reflected its own time, and stayed fresh and relevant as it moved into the future. During these decades, I found that what I considered the value of his work changed for me. At times Thomson’s enormous gifts for colour and composition, bolstered by an underlying urgency, seemed most pertinent to the triumphant progress of Abstraction, and to Expressionism, as it once again became part of the stylistic mix of younger artists. Later, the life he lived in nature came to seem of importance: I noticed that many contemporary artists embraced the landscape almost as part of their calling.

“From 1970 on, I had the work of Thomson in private collections brought into the Art Gallery of Ontario to be photographed. In examining this material, and the Gallery collection of works by Thomson, I found myself fascinated with the inscriptions (often written by Dr. J.M. MacCallum, Thomson’s great patron and friend), on the backs of works and I began to believe they were important to the record. After I left the Gallery and became Director of The Robert McLaughlin Gallery in Oshawa from 1974 to 2000, and afterwards, I continued to record Thomson inscriptions and labels wherever I could, especially in works as they appeared at auction and in private collections. Even in 2009, incredibly it seemed to me, genuine Thomsons came my way to be recorded. Like every cataloguer who attempts omnipotence, the discovery of this work helped me realize my shortcomings. I would like to believe that I have included all the works by Tom Thomson that exist, but I realize that the field is open. New material will show up with time.”

Tom Thomson Catalogue Raisonné, Researched and written by Joan Murray


Above: Tom Thomson
Round Lake, Mud Bay
Fall 1915
Alternate titles: Geese, Round Lake, Mud Bay
Oil on wood
8 7/16 x 10 5/16 in. (21.5 x 26.2 cm)
Inscription recto: l.r., Tom Thomson / 15 (incised) Inscription verso: u.l., in ink, by Mrs. Frank Cooper, Round Lake, Mud Bay / Painted as the First Flock of of [sic] / Geese flew back from the South [crossed out] North / Painting By The World’s Best Artist / Tom Thomson “1915″ He was Drowned at / Algonquin park July 8th 1916 [sic]; incised on frame (in 1970); Cat. 86; label, Art Gallery of Toronto, J.S. McLean
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (L69.51)

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the reasoned catalogue realized

collect, analyze and share  the value of data lies in their use

Provenance researchers who archive online using panOpticon are raising the bar for their teams as well as for their communities. As a consequence, an ecosystem of controlled review and exchange is beginning to develop in the art industry.

For the first time curators, writers, historians, teachers, students, appraisers, wealth managers, galleries, museums, libraries, archives, auction houses, collectors, insurers, educational institutions, estates, foundations, artists, and others invested in this vast territory are able to share credible information and give feedback to one another.

The results of these efforts are no longer static collections of records and documents to be occasionally referenced by a few, but are instead, organic processes that play a dynamic and public role in both the appreciation and the business of art.

Leverage data as soon as they are usable — usability means traceable chains of evidence.

Starting a project of your own? Already have data and wondering what to do next?
Simply have a question? Contact us.



Above: Paul Cézanne. La Corbeille de pommes, c. 1893. Oil on canvas, 25 5/8 x 31 1/2 in. (65 x 80 cm). Signed lower left in red-brown: P. Cezanne. The Art Institute of Chicago (The Helen Birch-Bartlett Memorial Collection).

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