Two fraud cases that sent shock waves through the world of photography are helping to trigger a revolution in photo conservation science, according to the cover story in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News. C&EN is the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.
Sarah Everts, C&EN European correspondent, explains that the prestige and prices of photographs — long dismissed by the art establishment as a second-tier medium — began to rival those of paintings and sculptures in the 1980s. Collectors began paying hundreds of thousands of dollars and even up to $1 million for vintage and contemporary photographs. Fraud cases appeared in parallel with that rise in popularity.
The article describes those cases, and explains how they led to million-dollar settlements that helped stimulate photo conservation research, transforming a niche field into what is now a mature science. Those conservation efforts embrace everything from family snapshots to priceless masterpieces, the article points out.