Art Reference Tools
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.com (founding Editor-in-Chief), AskART.com, and Artprice.com (Lyon, France). In 2000, Artprice acquired his company, Sound View Press, and he has remained its U.S. Consulting Editor. During the early 2000s, his monthly feature, “Market Watch,” ran in Art + Auction magazine.
Decades of Discoveries
Having achieved these publishing milestones, Peter’s expertise and energy is focused on Discoveries in American Art. His discovery of the lives and works of late career artists and those deceased has been his passion since 1976. With this publication, Peter and the members of his Curatorial Board continue to illuminate and reinforce the contributions of those artists whose visual expressions are 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 for many museums and leading galleries around the United States.
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. Editor.