What does creating an Inventory or Catalogue Raisonné involve?

An inventory is useful for many reasons, not least to confirm what is definitely your work and to establish its value.  After the maker’s death, from the perspective of the future of a body of art, the inventory can be instrumental in relation to the value and future sales of works as it can be used to authenticate work.

Basically an inventory should relate to all works of art and copyright, and you may also wish to include art-related materials such as sketchbooks, notebooks, files, sketches, maquettes and other preparatory works.

In essence, the inventory should set out the following for every work you have made:

  • A clear means of identifying the work (for example, size / medium / an image where possible)
  • The current physical location where known.
  • Ownership - still with the artist / in private ownership / gallery / in a public collection. Specify the name of the relevant owner.
  • Loan / Consignment - specify any terms on which works have been loaned and any consignment terms with any galleries.
  • Copyright - has any copyright been assigned / granted any copyright licences, and details in either case.
  • Terms of Sale / Gift - where any works have been sold or given away, record the terms of the sale, especially the price and the value of any works given away at that time. This is relevant in terms of the resale royalty right which may generate income for an artist or the estate on subsequent sales of the work.

For makers of new media and moving image work, or any other work not tied to a specific physical object (e.g. internet art, installation, sonic art etc) the Variable Media Network's Questionnaire is a useful tool to begin thinking about an inventory.