Salvador Dali Paintings Authentic?
April 21, 2006 12:52 PM   Subscribe

I have two paintings signed by Salvador Dali I am in the process in having them authenticated as legit or copies. To possibly save some resources I would like to do background on the paintings, but I am unable to find any information, any suggestions?

Recently I found these two paintings that belong to an older family member. They are both signed by “Salvador Dali” and have the representation of his surrealism work. I know enough about Dali and art to know that there have been many fakes produced for this artist. However, these paintings are signed and dated, have physical texture, and they are on canvas, I would believe to be hard to reproduce in a copy.
I am unable to read the date as the frame covers most of it, because I am not an expert I do not feel comfortable removing the frame.
Both paintings are also signed “Orican”, I have tried searching for these word but was unable to find any reference or information.
Mostly the likeness of the paintings is all I have to search on.
Before I spend the time and resources to have it shipped to a curator and/or authenticator I would like to do some preliminary research to see if I can’t find more information.

If anyone has any suggestions of sites, easily accessible reading material, or even has knowledge, I would greatly appreciate it!
posted by lutzla23 to Media & Arts (17 answers total)
hard to reproduce in a copy

being on canvas and having texture just means that it was done by hand. a friend of mine just had a copy of a painting hanging in the national gallery painted for him - it looks spectacular, but it ain't the original.
posted by andrew cooke at 12:55 PM on April 21, 2006

Thanks for the info. But the majority of Dali fakes where prints made in the 1970s (or at least that's when they surfaced). I understand that someone could have easily hand-copied the original, but my point is I can't even find information on the originals to compare with.
posted by lutzla23 at 12:59 PM on April 21, 2006

I have heard a story that Dali left thousands of sheets of art stock paper and canvases - signed and sometimes dated - around after he died, with instructions to distribute them to anybody who wanted them... He wanted to keep art historians busy after he left the earth. That Dali was a real kidder when it came to Art...
posted by zaelic at 1:01 PM on April 21, 2006

You might want to check with one or both of these groups. They most likely have authentication services.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:10 PM on April 21, 2006

Do you have some reservation about going to a reputable art appraisal service? I know our local art museum sometimes has free appraisal days.
posted by jasper411 at 1:13 PM on April 21, 2006

call a major museum or art auction house. you'll want to be sure. like 100% sure.
posted by tiamat at 2:19 PM on April 21, 2006

The academic journal that I work for publishes a relevant piece of artwork on our cover every issue. We acquire the majority of our images (both the image files and the rights to use them) from two sources, Art Resource and Bridgeman Art Library. Each represents a huge amount of art collections, museums, artists, estates, et cetera, and a great many of their available images can be found on their websites, which can be searched by keyword. In addition, each firm has a research staff that is quite knowledgeable and (at least in my experience) can find just about anything for you if you have something to go on. I'm not sure if this research service is provided to us because we've an account with them, but emailing them is worth a shot.
posted by penchant at 2:20 PM on April 21, 2006

Thank you for all of your suggestions. I am more than willing to to take the paintings to a reputable authentication service, in fact I would never not consider doing so. But, These paints are in currently in another state and the nearest place I would take the paintings to for review is also in another state. Before I spend the resources and time of many individuals I would like to do a little research on my own. If I peel back a corner and find...Made in Country X then I know not to proceed. What I am unable to find is any records of these paintings or something to go on to help my search. I am wondering if anyone knows if there is a publication or site that contains an inventory list of Dali's works. I think it would make me as an owner more prepaired and more aware of the process.
posted by lutzla23 at 2:21 PM on April 21, 2006

Hmm, I'm sorry -- it looks like my links didn't work. Try these:

Bridgeman Art Library

Art Resource
posted by penchant at 2:21 PM on April 21, 2006

Robers Descharnes is one of the leading experts on Dali, I believe he is currently compiling a catalogue raissone of the paintings. While there is already a catalogue of the prints and works on paper, I don't think there is a definitive record of all known Dali paintings. You could email him.

You can find examples of Dali's signature and other resources here (for a small fee.)

If you photograph the paintings, an expert at Christies will immediately tell you if you have anything of real interest for free, via email and without obligation. Email one of the people from the Impressionist and modern art department, and politely state your case to them before sending unsolicited attachments. They have helped me on numerous occassions.

Be aware that there are politics surrounding the authentication of paintings by artists estates, especially paintings that turn up in attics. Having said that it's very unlikely that 2 Dali paintings would appear out of knowhere anyway - the fact that it is a "real" textured painting on canvas means little. Dali didn't do much technique wise that a talented contemporary artist couldn't replicate, for fun, practice, whatever. Good luck.
posted by fire&wings at 3:09 PM on April 21, 2006

Looking back at the website, Descharnes seems to offer authentication, so definitely email him.
posted by fire&wings at 3:12 PM on April 21, 2006

Keep in mind that Dali (as well as Picasso and Miro) is one of the most forged artists on the planet.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 4:07 PM on April 21, 2006

keep in mind that a forgery doesn't have to be a copy per se--many, many forgeries are done in the style of the artist whose signature graces the work, and then presented as an original. in those cases, it is only the signature that is forged. according to my shaky source (see below), even widely published art catalogs feature fakes and thus cannot be wholly relied upon.

from what I've heard (my dubious source is F For Fake, a fascinating film made by a notorious faker about notorious fakers) "experts" and "appraisers" are often as crooked as the forgers. art markets are funky things, watch out.

if your paintings do turn out to be forgeries, all is not lost. art has intrinsic value; it's monetary value is a standard deviation, a derivative, secondary.

have you taken a history of the paintings from the 'older family member?' trying to answer the hows/wheres/whos/and how muchs of the acquisition of the paintings might help you find some direction in authenticating the paintings. do you know how your relative acquired them, and from whom? how much they paid? whether they slept with any serious art students/artists in college? (no offense meant) &c.

anyway, best to you, and here's hoping they're real. that would be pretty sweet.
posted by carsonb at 6:37 PM on April 21, 2006

I second the endorsement of F For Fake. Yeah, be careful. Multiple appraisers, perhaps?

If it's the real deal... lucky you!
posted by brundlefly at 7:32 PM on April 21, 2006

Perhaps contact Sothebys or Christies directly and ask how you would go about authenticating the pieces as you'd like to sell them. If there's a possibility that they're going to make a selling fee with your paintings, I'm sure they'd give you some suggestions. (My family has sold work through Christies and they authenticated the work themselves, though our manner of acquisition was very clear in the first place. It cost a small fee, but that was just subtracted from the fee we collected upon sale.)
posted by meerkatty at 8:22 PM on April 21, 2006

Wow, I am thoroughly impressed with several of the posts that I have received. I have gathered more than enough information to do some research on my own. I really appreciate everyone’s time and consideration on this matter; you all have been very helpful. I do have plans to contact Christies as I have done some business with them in the past. For any that are interested I will plan on keeping the post updated as information unfolds. Thank you all again!
posted by lutzla23 at 8:56 PM on April 21, 2006

Yes, please do keep us updated!
posted by anjamu at 1:29 AM on April 22, 2006

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