The recent news that the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. will dissolve in early 2012 brings the role of authentication boards in the art world to the fore once again. The Board, which has been charged with authenticating the works of Andy Warhol since 1996, has been the subject of controversy, probably owing more to the nature of Andy Warhol's art-making process and his fame rather than anything the Board may have done. Warhol was famous for industrializing the art-making process, frequently directing others to execute works on his behalf. The question of what makes a Warhol is subjective and is open to changing interpretation as scholarship develops, as it involves current thinking on what steps of the art-making process the artist must control in order for a piece to be considered attributable to that artist. The Warhol market is also gargantuan. ArtTactic reports that his art accounted for 17% of contemporary art sales at auction in 2010 and 12% of the total contemporary art sold in the first decade of this century.
A handful of other twentieth-century artists' estates have set up authentication boards, including Jean-Michel Baquiat, Alexander Calder, and the husband and wife, Jackson Pollack and Lee Krasner. The Pollack-Krasner Authentication Board only operated for six years (1990-1996) before dissolving after the completion of the Pollock catalogue raisonné. With the dissolution of the Warhol Board, it begs the question: Are authentication boards more trouble than they are worth?
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