New association for catalogue raisonné creators ‘will help stem flow of art fakes onto the market’

The International Catalogue Raisonné Association (ICRA) will launch on Monday, July 1 at the Royal Academy in London.

ICRA is the brainchild of its board, chaired by art market lawyer Pierre Valentin, a partner at Constantine Cannon LLP who also founded PAIAM, the Professional Advisors to the International Art Market.

The decision to set up an international body to promote best practice in recording an artist’s body of works comes after several high-profile lawsuits over the authenticity of artworks in the past five years.

Benefits of being an ICRA member include access to a legal panel covering seven art market jurisdictions.

US inspiration

The idea to establish ICRA was inspired by the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association, founded in New York in 1994.

Membership of ICRA, a not-for-profit organisation, will be open to anyone responsible for creating a catalogue raisonné – a comprehensive inventory of all known artworks by an artist, in a particular medium or in all media.

“Catalogues raisonnés are essential to preserve an artist’s legacy and protect the integrity of his or her oeuvre,” said Valentin. “ICRA’s mission is to support the community of people working tirelessly to produce high quality catalogues raisonnés”.

Talking to ATG, Valentin added that the ICRA would “encourage the more widespread creation of catalogue raisonnés – for both living and dead artists – in order to help stem the flow of fakes onto the market”.

ICRA board members include Harriet Bridgeman, founder and managing director of the Artists’ Collecting Society and Mark Rothko catalogue raisonné author David Anfam, as well as other art academics.

‘Timely launch’

Anfam said that the launch of ICRA “is more timely than ever in a booming art world where authentication and scholarship – central to the function of any catalogue raisonné – have become increasingly important issues”.

As well as discounted legal advice, membership benefits include an annual conference (planned for November) and regular networking events, as well as a members-only area of the ICRA website, icra.art.

ICRA hopes that artists, representatives of artists’ estates, art academics, scholars, experts, lawyers and publishers will feel encouraged to join. 

‘Isolated lives’

“There is a sense that many scholars and experts who work on catalogue raisonnés tend to live slightly isolated lives and don’t have a platform where they can meet and share ideas,” Valentin told ATG.

“Putting together a catalogue raisonné is not without risk – it’s about the reliability of experts, copyright and so on. ICRA’s digital and face-to-face platforms will allow those tasked with catalogue raisonnés to learn from people who have done it before.”