Provenance: A Forensic History of Art

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Provenance: A Forensic History of Art, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2017.
Provenance: A Forensic History of Art, installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2017.

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Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Christ after the Flagellation, ca. 1670. Oil on canvas. Gift of Ellnora D. Krannert 1960-4-1
Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Christ after the Flagellation, ca. 1670. Oil on canvas. Gift of Ellnora D. Krannert 1960-4-1

Exhibition

On view
May 13, 2017 to Dec 8, 2018
Main Level, Kinkead Gallery

This exhibition presents recent research into the World War II-era provenance of the Trees collection at Krannert Art Museum to examine the history of ownership through six of the museum's longest-held paintings.

Exploring themes such as genealogy, documentation, attribution, and the perplexing problem of identifying unfamiliar collectors’ marks, Provenance: A Forensic History of Art displaces the prevalent conception of forensic inquiry as a tool for crime scene investigation and relocates it from the laboratory to the art collection. Etymologically, forensics relate to courts of law: a “forensic” investigation denotes the methodical examination and compilation of evidence for a court or other public forum. Likewise, provenance research is a forensic method employed to reconstruct legal chains of ownership that establish an artwork’s whereabouts from the moment of creation to its present circumstances.

Once customary, this now unsung approach to art history yields rich and nuanced information about the lives of objects—information whose value lies not only in its legal significance, but also its ability to reveal the very personal journeys of artworks through the lives of collectors.

Works included in the exhibition are 15th–19th century paintings by Moretta da Brescia (attributed), Ambrosius Holbein (attributed), Master of the St. Ursula Legend, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Theodule Ribot, and George Romney (after).

Curated by Nancy Karrels, doctoral candidate in Art History
Exhibition based on research supervised by Maureen Warren, curator of European and American Art

Sponsored in part by Francis P. Rohlen Visiting Artists Fund/Art + Design Visitors Series, the Program in Jewish Culture and Society, and Krannert Art Museum

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Wynn Bullock, Shore Line, 1966. Gelatin silver print. Museum purchase 1967-14-2. © Wynn Bullock
  1. May 26, 2018 to Oct 20, 2018
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Cuzco School (active Cuzco, Peru, 16th–18th century), Our Lady of the Remedies of La Paz, ca. 1750. Welcome Wall installation at Krannert Art Museum, 2018. Photo by Jessica L. Hung.
  1. Sep 12, 2018 to Dec 8, 2018
Welcome Wall
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Kennedy Browne, Real World Harm (Act I), 2018. Still from 360º video for Oculus, 5 minutes. Courtesy of the artists © Kennedy Browne
  1. Oct 4, 2018 to Feb 9, 2019
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