The Emperor's new... certificate

May 30 2012

Image of The Emperor's new... certificate

Picture: Artinfo

There's a bizarre story over at Artinfo about the loss of a certificate of authenticity for a Sol LeWitt 'wall drawing'. LeWitt's drawings aren't made by the artist; instead, anyone can make them from his set of instructions. So without that all-important certificate, the finished product is worthless. But then you and I might think it is anyway. Julia Halperin has the tale:

What is the essence of a Sol LeWitt wall drawing? What makes these works — which famously exist as a series of instructions, executable by anyone who owns them — authentic LeWitts and not just some lines on a wall? This metaphysical quandary is about to be played out in a lawsuit filed by disgruntled collector and dealer Roderic Steinkamp against Chicago's Rhona Hoffman Gallery.

On May 22, Steinkamp sued Hoffman and her eponymous gallery for a total of $1.4 million, alleging that she lost a certificate of authenticity for a Sol LeWitt drawing he consigned to her in 2008. (The lawsuit was first reported by Courthouse News.) "Since the wall drawings do not constitute freestanding, portable works of art like a framed canvas or a sculpture on a podium, documentation of the work is key to transmitting it or selling it to a collector or institution," says the complaint, filed in New York County Supreme Court. "The unique nature of Sol LeWitt's wall drawings renders their accompanying Certificates of authenticity critical to such works' value."

As they say, go figure.

Notice to "Internet Explorer" Users

You are seeing this notice because you are using Internet Explorer 6.0 (or older version). IE6 is now a deprecated browser which this website no longer supports. To view the Art History News website, you can easily do so by downloading one of the following, freely available browsers:

Once you have upgraded your browser, you can return to this page using the new application, whereupon this notice will have been replaced by the full website and its content.