Edited by Gail Feigenbaum and Inge Reist
This book goes beyond the narrow definition of the term provenance, which addresses only the bare facts of ownership and transfer, to explore ideas about the origins and itineraries of objects, consider the historical uses of provenance research, and draw attention to the transformative power of ownership. The result is a volume of essays that makes a strong case for recuperating provenance—what contributing author Anne Higonnet calls “so many epic tales compressed into such dry lists”—for the history of art. Provenance attends to the social life of art, a work’s biography subsequent to the moment of its origin.
Provenance: An Alternate History of Art offers a broad perspective that ranges from ancient archaeology to conceptual art, that encompasses Europe, Asia, and the Americas, and considers a variety of media. The essays demonstrate in myriad ways how an owner’s relationship with a work of art or, in varying degrees, with the object’s previous owners can change irrevocably the way the work will be perceived and understood by future generations.
Gail Feigenbaum is associate director of the Getty Research Institute and the coeditor of Sacred Possessions (Getty Publications, 2011). Inge Reist is chief of research collections and programs and director of the Center for the History of Collecting in America at the Frick Art Reference Library of the Frick Collection, New York.