Art And Culture

A Tech Startup to Catalogue Every Piece of Art

A Tech Startup to Catalogue Every Piece of Art A Tech Startup to Catalogue Every Piece of Art

Is it possible to digitize and verify every art object ever made?

Verisart, a new site co-founded by Robert Norton, previously chief executive officer of two online art-commerce sites, Saatchi Online and Sedition, is going to try.

The digital startup hopes to chronicle original artworks, prints, multiples, and books by using block chain, thereby assigning each object an unassailable certificate of authenticity.

Each object’s provenance, in turn, is created step-by-step by its owners, who add their e-mail addresses to an object’s data when they purchase one.

In the project’s second phase, Norton plans to catalogue older artwork by extending the verification service to online sites and artists’ estates. Eventually, he hopes to work with appraisers and insurers to add works that have already been validated.

First, though, the plan is for artists to use image identification software provided by Verisart, which is based in Los Angeles in the US and will launch in late September, to add art to the database as they produce it.

Along with the information you’d get from a brick-and-mortar gallery (artist, title, year, materials), the artwork’s “signature” will also include price information and metadata that will allow artwork to be catalogued and searched by collectors and easily ingested by museums, reports

“I’ve spoken to successful artists, and they all have some form of database management,” says Norton. “At the end of the day, they want some definitive control of their output, and this potentially empowers them.”

This could be a potential boon for creators. Many artists have voiced frustration over the fact that they have no idea who owns their art, let alone where it is. The art market - rife with opportunities for fakes and forgeries and theft - desperately needs airtight authentication methodology. An easily accessible, readily identifiable process that verifies an artwork’s authenticity would benefit both artists and collectors in equal measure.

 Bigger Goal

Norton plans to use the tool for an even bigger goal. He wants to create a Verisart-authenticated database that is shoppable. Using it, anyone could search for an artist or artwork, find images, price history, and provenance, and then - if the present owner of the artwork has opted in - contact them to purchase the artwork.

“We think long-term monetization will come through building a verified database of inventory. We think that that will enable transactions through Verisart.”

The first and potentially most damaging roadblock is simple adherence. What makes Verisart a useful (and profitable) tool is the voluntary participation of an artwork’s present owners. Many collectors might choose not to voluntarily add their contact information - and the price they paid for a painting - to a publicly available database. It’s a question of discretion and security.

Norton counters that his program will protect participants’ privacy. “There are sensitivity options that owners of these works will be able to choose,” he says.