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For any product we buy in general, we need some sort of document to prove its provenance, quality guarantee, the brand or an individual that produced it. The certificate of authenticity for an artwork is a document that contains these facts, and it is essential for all sides of the trade. COA is created by the artist, or someone who is an expert of their oeuvre, to help the collectors prove it is genuine and verify its quality. In the world of fine art, a piece accompanied by a certificate of authenticity is one that is made by a professional, practicing art-maker, making a clear distinction from amateur work and attributing a potential collectable value to it. Simply put, the certificate provides credibility, and it could be considered a promise that the piece in question is made of proper materials and is meant to last long in the hands of its new owner.
A valid certificate of authenticity in art comprises of specific details about an artwork. First of all, as mentioned earlier, the best author of a certificate is the artist who made the work.
Another important item of the certificate of authenticity is the medium, or all the materials used in the creation of the piece in question. The more precise these are, the more they help their owner with conservation in-order to ensure longevity and preserve quality; at the same time, they provide information on the creative process itself. For prints of original artwork in another medium, both the medium of the original and the one of the print should be listed. This can include the type of paint or ink, the printing device, type of canvas or paper, as well as source, weight and any pertinent or known archival properties. Preferably, the certificate should also contain an image of the artwork as well, for comparison. Next to this, we have the dimensions.
Finally, a certificate of authenticity should be sealed with the original signature of the artist of the artwork, followed by a copyright statement. It should reveal the copyright holder and possibly the applicable law and reproduction rights as well, if there are any. It is possible that the work will be under a public license or have some rights reserved; in this case, copying of the work may be permissible. While the information listed so far could be considered mandatory, what follows could be described as “extras”: the names of reference books, magazines, or similar resources that contain either specific or related information about either that work of art or the artist; information on possible exhibitions, the techniques used to create the image, its subject matter, author’s comments on the piece…
When it comes to single pieces of art, the certificate of authenticity is easily defined. For prints or artworks that come within an edition, there are a number of additional details that should be noted. In these cases, the COA will include the number of that particular print within the edition and the edition size; if this is the 4th print out of 10, it will say 4/10, letting us know that the edition is limited. If it’s is an open one, on the other hand, meaning more pieces can be produced at any time, this will be stated as well. The document should also provide information on the number of prints and proofs within that are signed and numbered, only signed or only numbered.