Peter Hastings Falk, Chief Curator and Editor

Decades of Discoveries

While Peter has achieved milestones in art reference publishing since 1976 (see below), his persistent passion has been the discovery significant artists who deserve far greater recognition. Some were unfairly marginalized, some were derailed for tragic reasons, and some slipped through the cracks of art history altogether. Peter and the members of the DiAA Curatorial Board continue to illuminate the works of those artists who were true innovators and whose visual expressions were compelling contributions that broaden the scope of American art history. The adherence to building a scholarly foundation for every project has led to rediscovery exhibitions presented by museums and leading galleries around the United States. Watch Peter’s appearance on the CBS “Morning Show” as he discusses the Francis Hines discovery; and, read about it in The New York Times. An earlier project, the Pinajian Discovery, was featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America” it was featured as “the unlikely discovery that has rocked the art world.” Hundreds of other news outlets around the globe ran the story, including in The New York Times.

A small selection of Peter’s monographs for museum and gallery exhibitions

Art Reference Tools

The 3-volume Who Was Who on American Art and the annual Art Price Index International — both now a part of Artprice.com

Peter has been a leader in art reference publishing during the past 40 years. He is best known as the author of the biographical dictionary, Who Was Who in American Art. Lauded by critics as “the most significant research tool ever published in the field,” the massive 3-volume opus won the Wittenborn Award for the best art reference book published in North America, given by the Art Libraries Society. It also won the American Library Association’s “Outstanding Academic Title.” Peter’s publications also include the Exhibition Record Series, which William Gerdts called “the most important basis for art historical research in late 19th to mid 20th century American art.” Peter has also published books on conservation and art forensics.

Art Auction Indices

Peter is also a pioneer in the publishing of auction indices tracking the art market. In 1981 he published the first index to photographs sold at auction, entitled The Photographic Art Market. In 1991 he expanded that scope to create the largest index to fine prints sold at auction, entitled the Print Price Index. In 1993 he expanded further by documenting all fine art mediums sold at auction in what became the “blue book” for the market, Art Price Index International. During this process he established new editorial conventions for documenting information in art auction catalogues, which remain the standard today. Accordingly, during the 1990s he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the three major online art information companies, developing their databanks of auction price records and artist biographies. These include ArtNet (founding Editor-in-Chief), AskART, and Artprice.com (Lyon, France). In 2000, Artprice acquired his company, Sound View Press, and he has remained its Senior Advisor for the U.S. During the early 2000s, his monthly feature, “Market Watch,” ran in Art + Auction magazine.

A selection of Peter’s exhibition monographs spanning the mid 19th century to contemporary

 

Expert Witness

Peter is also well known as an appraiser and has provided expert testimony on a number of high-profile litigation cases involving the value of artworks, ranging from Old Masters to Impressionists, from early Modernists to Contemporaries. In 2019 he served as the key expert witness in the largest claim of “loss in value” in art history, illuminated by The Art Newspaper — a $100 million fight over the works of Martin Kippenberger — in which his client prevailed.

Peter has also been a key appraiser for cases regarding the repatriation of Nazi-looted art.

In 1994 he served as an expert witness in helping to win a trial that the media referred to as the “Warhol War” — the highly publicized trial over the worth of the extensive collection of art produced by Andy Warhol. In addition to appraising, Peter has advised trusts, estates, and foundations in developing best-practice programs for both collection-building and deaccessioning. Among the issues addressed are tax-efficient distributions to heirs and the creation of philanthropic opportunities with maximum impact. Integral to this process is his close work with leading attorneys in art law as well as with accounting experts to arrive at the most effective solutions for issues such as the reduction of federal tax liabilities, tax-preferred cash flow, optimization of intergenerational wealth, and philanthropic gifting of art.

Private Art Transactions

In the realm of very high value fine art, he is partner with Don Leeds in Private Art Transaction Alliance, LLC.

Other good stuff

Peter is listed in Who’s Who in America and has lectured throughout the United States and Europe for various organizations. He is a member of the Association of Historians of American Art (AHAA), the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association (CRSA), the Art Libraries Society of North America (ARLIS), the Association of Historians of Nineteenth-Century Art (AHNCA), the Association of Online Appraisers (AOA), and others. He earned his undergraduate degree in art and art history from Brown University in 1973 and completed his graduate work (architecture) at the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976. A list of Peter’s books and monographs that are still in print is available upon request. The data in many of his books have been incorporated into the databases of Artprice.com, for which he is U.S. Senior Advisor.

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