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General catalogue. Or reasoned. What is it?

The general catalog is a logbook of an artist’s activity.

Many great artists manage to create their own general or raisonné catalog at the height of their career. This if followed by critically attentive collaborators and by collectors who complain about the need for market demands.

Having overcome the primitive monotony, often caused by the difficulty that is sometimes encountered in approaching this “giant book”, the general catalog has some interesting aspects. Whether it’s already published or under construction, the first is to be able to follow the path of an artist. In fact, it will be enough to follow the chronology of the pages and the passage of time. In this way it will be possible to evaluate in some cases even the creative tension.

General catalogue. Or reasoned. The artist’s story

If well structured and full of information, it can be an essential safeguard against inconvenient episodes of devaluation of the work. Often due to the absence of news. An example can be the common perception that an artist has worked a lot in a certain period of his career. And has, therefore, produced several works. Or, conversely, that he hasn’t worked for anything and that therefore works from a certain period are a rarity. Through careful cataloging you immediately become aware of the reality of the facts. And therefore a correct evaluation can be made. Far from the power games of gallery owners or auction houses, but based on reliable and transparent data.

A work, therefore, of which it is possible to tell the story from the moment of creation to today. Of which it will be possible to trace the periods in which it enjoyed greater attention, through sales at auction, gallery and among private individuals, exhibitions all over the world. This is a work that will certainly have greater prominence from a cultural point of view and on the market, compared to a work whose originality or history are uncertain.

General catalogue. Or reasoned. The archiving of the works

To allow for a complete drafting of the general catalogue, the archive in most cases invites its collectors to collaborate by supplying the necessary material.

In order to archive the works and be able to decree their authenticity, or, in some cases, only the interest, all the existing documentation owned by the collector or the gallery is required. The evaluation is carried out by the archive or by a scientific committee appointed by the latter to include them in the catalogue. In the presence of the artist, if alive. In his absence, of course, if no longer alive. 

General catalogue. Or reasoned. The critical curator

Finally, the creation of a general catalog stems from a long association between the artist and the critic who will be the curator of the volume, since it must be the richest publication of the master’s work at a scientific level. In fact, the curator brings with him his own wealth of knowledge of the historical and artistic context in which the work was born, but also the point of view suitable for underlining the peculiarities of the individual work.

The general catalog as a whole could therefore be defined as an artist’s “Bible”, while the technical data sheets of each work that compose it can be assimilated to a detailed identity card: everything there is to know about the artist and his works will be told in this volume which therefore assumes the value of an ideal reference text.

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