Catalog Raisonné / Estate

In order to manage the estate of important artists, descendants and family members often associate in foundations or heir communities (referred to as Foundation or Estate).


The Foundations or Estates register and manage the artist’s oeuvre in a so-called “catalog raisonné”. Leading experts, art historians and museum curators are involved in creating the catalog raisonné. This additionally increases the acceptance of the catalog raisonné in the art world. In often multi-volume publications, all works that are known and confirmed as original are listed in chronological order and their whereabouts are documented.

In addition to the classic form as a book, some artists now also make their catalog raisonné available online. Many of today’s most important artists have monitored the creation of their own catalog raisonné already during their lifetime. The catalog raisonné therefore has an authoritarian character. Works of art listed here are invariably considered original. On the other hand, works of art that are not listed in the catalog raisonné, are not accepted by the art world and are practically worthless.

Art Estate

In the case of Sigmar Polke, the heirs of Polke, his children and his second wife, have joined forces to form the “Estate of Sigmar Polke”. In the Cologne studio of the artist, the Polke archive was built. The aim of the community of heirs is “(…) to preserve, promote and protect the legacy of Sigmar Polke and his art for future generations”. To achieve this, the estate’s most important task is to compile a comprehensive catalog raisonné.

Scientific support comes from the highly recognized Polke experts Bice Curiger, Götz Adriani, Guy Tosatto, Katharina Schmidt, Kasper König and Sabine Rewalt. However, since Sigmar Polke did not capture and number his artworks during his lifetime, as his painter colleague Gerhard Richter did, the work by the estate proves to be very time-consuming. The dating, dimensions and provenance of each work must be checked. The painting “Propellerfrau” has already passed this review successfully and has been included in the catalog raisonné..

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