We love art and own a collection that sometimes is displayed elsewhere. Our original Warhols have traveled a couple of times, and every time we do this we need several steps to ensure every art piece will come back in good shape.
With trusted logistics companies, we are sure that they will be carried with care but we also make condition reports before they travel, once they arrive, once they are installed and then again when the art pieces come back home. We have insurance, but still, ensuring sheltered transportation and careful examination are key to keeping our collection safe. Of course, as art lovers, we use 4ARTapp for several actions, and one of them is condition reporting.
What is a condition report?
A condition report is documentation detailing an artwork’s complete physical appearance.
This article covers why it is an important practice anytime before shipping, storage, or exhibition.
Collectors and artists who keep condition reports will have documentation of any changes over time.
Changes in a painting could be caused by:
- natural aging of sensitive materials
- accidental damage
- insect infestation
- inappropriate storage conditions
- improper handling or packaging
- alterations due to restoration
Why are condition reports important?
Imagine you add a painting to your collection but in a few days, the frame falls apart. As a result, the painting is also at risk.
In the art world, condition reports are a standard requirement for professional exhibitions or handling. Carefully maintaining the documentation is critical when establishing budgets, buying, and settling insurance claims.
Curators, conservators or collectors use the information issued on condition reports to:
- identify artworks that need treatment
- prioritize treatment interventions in specific objects of a collection
- identify works that are ready for an exhibition
- identify works at risk for traveling
- predetermine shipping requirements for traveling
Purposes of condition reports
Knowing the condition a painting is in allows the owner or custodian to track changes. Having this information is fundamental for the decision-making process for an artwork before it is acquired, displayed, or loaned.
Before buying, a collector can know if they can provide the necessary care for the piece as well as be aware of any hazards, like fungal infestations. Having an ongoing process of condition reporting can motivate upgrading display facilities or storage, for example, exactly when they’re needed.
Every collector, museum or gallery has different condition report formats for specific purposes.
When to carry out a condition report
Because condition reporting is an ongoing process, you need to take into account the different times to do it.
On acquiring a painting
On a first examination the report shows if something needs restoration, and if storage or display needs special requirements.
When storing an artwork
A painting can stay fine for many years, but deterioration can happen especially if the storage area is not ideal (if the room is humid, for example).
An artwork to be displayed needs to have its overall structural integrity determined, plus how the light levels should be and any handling instructions.
While being displayed
It varies between every collection, but pieces should be inspected regularly. Any changes should be noted and if there is action to be done, it should also be documented.
Before, during and after traveling
These condition reports are fundamental for loaning and borrowing. If any change occurs, it must be documented.
Right after damage happens
You can imagine how important it is to carefully state the cause, time, location and nature of the accident.
Before any restoration occurs
If conservation or restoration treatment will happen, the condition, damage and deterioration should be outlined. When possible, the causes of the deterioration should be stated.
How much does it cost to get a condition report?
As a collector or art handler you want to be sure that your transactions are worth what they are, and avoid any misunderstandings.
Some artists create their own condition reports based on templates. Basically any parties involved have to agree on what the standard practice is.
A typical condition report will have a couple of paragraphs and even a disclaimer, saying it is an opinion and you should not take it as an alternative to your own judgement. However, there are some standards you could take into account to negotiate better or have peace of mind.
A condition report should offer total clarity on the state of a work of art, in this way it minimises:
- the risk of costly errors when adding to your collection.
- any possible dispute about damage when shipping or loaning a piece.
You can find companies that offer independent condition reports for 250EUR each. At 4ARTapp you can create them for 5EUR, and doing them on our all-in-one platform makes a lot of sense for our clients.
Digital condition reports
Conservators and art handling professionals are making their processes easier day by day. Back in 2011, Yosi Posilev, a senior conservation photographer from Los Angeles County Museum of Art, talked about the use of the iPad as an image-based tool, to have a repository of images as part of an archive. The idea was to integrate the iPad output and the collections management software. Nowadays we see more museums digitizing and documenting all types of formats.
It has never been easier to access all the information in electronic formats to learn the production, material, history, and provenance of an artwork.
At 4ARTechnologies, we want to make the process as simple and quick as possible, so artists, museums, galleries, as well as logistics and art handling companies, can save time and money when taking care of their precious collections.
4ARTapp: The Digital Art Market Toolbox
Discover the possibilities 4ARTechnologies has for you as a player in the art world.
Making a condition report on 4ARTapp is easy, and reduces the time and cost by up to 80%.
Mobile high-quality condition reporting is perfect for sales and transportation of artworks. Changes and damage in a painting are effectively detected, compared and shared. You can compare the details and immediately share your findings with your teams or clients.
About the author:
Paulina Lara Franco
SUPERPOWER: beat the blank page’s fear
Paulina is grateful that since high school she has had the chance to express herself in both communication and theater🎭. Her experience in communication has been mainly developing content strategies for education and startups.
The best advice she received was from her great grandmother: “happiness is easy.”