Introduction to the Appraisal of American Indian Fine Art Webinar

Who: Veteran art appraiser Corinne Cain, who has more than 35 years of experience in the industry

What: Hour-long webinar with a Powerpoint visual-aid covering the basics of AI Fine Art appraisal

When: July 21, 2011; 3-4 PM EST

How: Register through the American Society of Appraiser’s website and log on on the 21st and see the webinar live!

From painted hides to carved sculptures to blown glass, the world of American Indian Fine art constitutes much more than meets-the-eye. With the array of intricate detail applied by such artists as Oscar Howe, Merina Lujan (Pop Chalee) and Preston Singletary and the abstract techniques developed by George Morrison and his contemporaries, how can one begin to place a price on these distinctly unique, yet equally wonderful, works of art?

Corinne Cain is here to help answer this question. For only $45 (applies to both members and non-members of the American Society of Appraisers), you can download and enjoy an hour-long, 78-slide Powerpoint and webinar (note:  audio is only available live) presented by veteran art appraiser Corinne Cain, touching on the basics of the appraisal of American Indian Fine Art. Having personally trained several other appraisers and co-authoring the American Society of Appraisers AI appraisal exam, Corinne Cain’s appraisal abilities have been widely recognized both within the American Society of Appraisers and elsewhere.

Some of the many topics Corinne will be discussing include:

• The origin of AI Fine Arts (painted buffalo, deerskin hides, ceremonial shirts, etc.)

• How these developed into contemporary forms of AI art such as painting, drawing and sculpture (referencing specific, non-AI influences).

Styles and biographies of prominent, AI artists including visual examples of their work.

AI Fine Art Market Levels including websites for corresponding galleries and organizations

Museums hosting significant AI Fine Art collections

• Extensive, Annotated Bibliographies (available for download) including both general AI Fine Art information as well as books/articles on specific artists

The webinar will take place on July 21, 2011 from 3-4 PM EST. Sign-up today through the American Society of Appraisers’ website:

I’m Sorry !!!

I’m sorry the woman who called today purchased a painting  years ago for $50,000.

I’m sorry she didn’t know this artist’s work had been hyped aggressively by the seller.

I’m sorry she didn’t hire an appraiser BEFORE making the purchase, instead of a couple of years AFTER the sale.

The “Good Old Days” ???

A fine couple brought paintings to my office to learn how their values had changed, since having been valued in 1988. They brought the original appraisal with them.

I am not sure how the original appraiser would defend a value of $2,800 for an unsigned painting. 

Another painting had been linked to a generous value.  It was likewise unsigned, but the appraiser had misinterpretted some painted grasses as “E.E.”

Still another painting that was signed, its signature was misread.  Secondarily, the artist identified by the appraiser was not a painter.

The two best paintings were watercolor on paper.  I wish the appraiser had campaigned for the substitution of archival framing materials for the highly acidic boards used, resident now for an extra 23 years. 

The couple volunteered “The appraiser charged a percentage of value for their fee”. 

Initially egos were stroked by the lofty values.  Now the couple is elderly, expecting perhaps values could have increased from values identified over twenty ago, their hopes were somewhat dashed. 

Had they also paid insurance premiums based on these inappropriate values for over twenty years?   I did not have the courage to ask.

Professional appraisers do not currently charge for their services based on a percentage of the value of the property they appraise.

Corinne Cain, ASA    Accredited Senior Appraiser/ Fine Arts as well as American Indian Arts   American Society of Appraisers website  or 1800 ASA VALU  1 800 272 8258

Inferior vs Superior Fannie Nampeyo


 Had I not hefted this jar and touched its interior walls, a value would have been named that was approximately twice too high.  Fannie Nampeyo’s best work has consistently thin walls with a bottom proportional in thickness.  Also, upon close inspection slip application was relatively ragged especially in the red area, compared to the artist’s best work.

The above dramatizes an appraiser’s reluctance to gauge value based on photography. In this case photographs would not yield characteristics with critical value consequences. 

Appraisers want to be accurate, to provide good and reliable service. 

When possible, allow your appraiser to view the property in person.

Corinne Cain, ASA
Accredited Senior Appraiser
Personal Property/ Fine Arts & American Indian Arts

What is Qualitative Ranking ???

Two paintings are by the same artist, roughly the same size, in the same condition, depicting the same subject matter and painted within a year of each other.  Why is one valued 1 1/2 times the value of the other ???  This is also true of pottery or of any type of hand-made item you can think of.

Artist’s products vary qualitatively.  A sharp appraiser will be able to recognize the item that is more successful in its execution, as will an astute collector, execution being technical as well as its intention and balance.

Corinne Cain, ASA
Personal Property/ Fine Arts & American Indian Arts

Life in the appraiser lane is not dull !

Fake art catches most of the news coverage, but inferior art is a more subtle accelerating problem.

Men/ Women are not machines, so their artistic output is not uniform, even amongst professional artists, resulting in superior art and inferior art.

What is the problem side to inferior art? Besides being a visual negative, it has a tax consequence. When the artist or the collector dies, a value for all personal property is determined by the appraiser, linked to the artist’s or collector’s date of death. Once the value of one’s real and personal property exceeds $3.5 million, a tax is levied on the value in excess of $3.5 million. To date in 2010 Congress has not identified the value barrier over which a tax will be applied.

Selling inferior art to realize funds when the economy is rocky is extremely problematic.

As citizens fashion second and third careers, as we tend to live longer and healthier, more of us are electing to become artists and/ or crafts people. As our skill sets grow, less successful attempts are parked on friends and family. This transitional art (on its way to becoming superior) then occupies walls in homes that would otherwise be populated by superior artworks. Worse, after viewing television programs where a seemingly innocent work of art is declared wildly valuable, unrealistic expectations for the value of artworks become more commonplace.

Enter, the art appraiser, who must then identify artworks as either superior or qualitatively challenged. The appraiser is quite smart if the assessment equates to beaucoup value or underskilled, if the pronouncement is negative.

Welcome to life in the appraiser lane and the negative consequences of the rapidly growing supply of inferior art worldwide.

Corinne Cain, ASA
Accredited Senior Appraiser
Personal Property/ Fine Arts as well as American Indian Arts

Home | Qualifications | What we Appraise | Services | Fees | FAQ | Blog | Testimonials | Contact Us
Copyright © 2018 Corinne Cain, Ltd. All Rights Reserved.
& are both products of Corinne Cain, Ltd.