Much along the lines of the Andy Warhol Foundation, which used to authenticate works by Warhol until legal troubles became an issue, the Giorgio and Isa de Chirico Foundation which currently authenticates works by De Chirico is finding itself in the same hot water although under different, very interesting circumstances.
As is discussed in the Art Newspaper, the Archive for Metaphysical Art, is publishing a series of studies that it hopes will clarify the issues surrounding the authentication of De Chirico’s works. Paolo Baldacci, the president of the Archive, used to be a member of the Giorgio and Isa de Chirico Foundation and served as an expert on the authentication panel from 1993 to 1997 until he was asked to step down. Several court battles later, Baldacci’s goal is to educate owners of supposed De Chirico’s works as to the artist’s unusual selling methods, which are currently having implications on how his art is authenticated.
At the heart of the Archive’s investigation are paintings made by the artist from the 1930s onwards, which he deliberately dated to decades earlier, because his earlier works were in more demand. At the beginning of his career De Chirico was celebrated by the Surrealists, but when he moved on from his early style, around ten years later, he was rejected by the French avant-garde so he went back to his earlier style in attempt to regain stardom.
‘“From 1933 onwards [the artist] flooded the market with an avalanche of backdated work,” write Baldacci and Gerd Roos, the vice-president of the Archive, who are co-authors of its latest study on the history of one painting that De Chirico signed and dated 1913, but which the authors argue was made in 1933.’
Baldacci believes the artist made “around 140” of these backdated paintings, but Paolo Picozza, the president of the De Chirico Foundation, estimates that there are only “around 40”, no one truly knows however as only the artist dated his works. To add an even juicer twist to what a marketing genius or diabolical artist De Chirico was, he would declare his own authentic early work to be inauthentic in order to make his later “early” ones more desirable. So how does one navigate the complexities of the De Chirico market?
As the Art Newspaper article states, “Backdated paintings are treated as later works; redated following advice from the foundation and priced accordingly, says Olivier Camu, the deputy chairman of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art department. Paintings made before 1920 are rare, “they come up once every five years or so”, Camu says, adding that the artist, who was a major precursor of Surrealism, is still undervalued in relation to the movement. And when it comes to authentication, “the market absolutely trusts the foundation”, Camu says.”