SGS Brings a Game Changing Solution to the Monitoring Of Artwork Conservation Globally
As part of its thriving art services business, SGS, the global leader in the inspection, verification, testing and certification provides the world’s galleries, fine art logistic companies, museums, auction houses, private collectors and other owners of artwork with comprehensive condition reports on artworks.
With a game changing standardized system built on a global network of accredited art conservators, proprietary software and rigorous museum level procedures, SGS brings a previously unknown level of objectivity, traceability and professionalism to these services.
A vital tool in today’s global art market, a condition report describes the state of conservation of an art object at a given moment and in a specific location. Essentially, it will document damage and past or recent restorations, and show whether or not the condition of an artwork has changed in any way on its journey via various handlers, custodians, buyers and sellers.
Until SGS developed its harmonized standards, each conservator worked with their own templates, methodology and glossary. As a result, it was extremely difficult to compare two condition reports on the same artwork and understand if there had been any change (damage, restoration, etc.) between the moment in time when those reports were drafted. This has been a real problem for buyers, insurance companies and fine art logistic companies.
SGS condition reports are essential reference documents during a range of art transactions, including loans, sales and insurance calculations. They are also a key reference point for logistical operations such as storage, transportation and exhibition. In all cases, the parties involved can rely on the independent judgment of the piece that is summarized within every report produced along the transactional or operational chain.
A global network of art experts
SGS is the only service provider in this category with a worldwide network of offices and experts, and proprietary software to make its operations more efficient. This means the company is uniquely capable of tracking an artwork, and reporting upon its state of conservation, throughout every stage of an international transaction or logistics operation.
The SGS team of art experts includes conservators specializing in paintings, sculptures, contemporary art, archaeological objects, works on paper, and more. Having recruited according to the highest professional standards in each category, SGS then provides additional training to every inspector. This ensures that each expert uses the same systematic methodology – including photographic documentation – when assessing and reporting on a piece.
“The art market is global, our solutions are too,” says Yan Walther, Managing Director of Art Services at SGS. “When you buy a second-hand vehicle or borrow equipment, for example, you want to know what condition it’s in – ideally from an independent party. And the principle is exactly the same with an artwork, only it can be much pricier and more fragile!”
SGS maintains a centralized database of condition reports on a secure server in Geneva, Switzerland and all data is checked for quality and consistency. This means the company can monitor the state of an artwork at different moments in time and in different locations, which helps to prevent fraudulent substitutions and to verify the identity of a recovered artwork (following loss or theft).
More about Art Services from SGS
The Arts and Culture Services of SGS are tailored to meet the unique requirements of the art market. With a wide range of audit, inspection, technical and analytical services, the company’s global network offers:
- Condition and conservation monitoring
- Technical imaging, analyses and dating to help authenticate artworks or detect fakes and forgeries
- Inventory of fine art collections and funds
- Sale condition reporting
- Transport and exhibition condition reporting
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SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 85,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,800 offices and laboratories around the world.