Water- A Serious Peril to Works of Art

AXA ART Presents Damages from Hurricane Sandy at its Lounge during 2013 AIPAD Photography Show New York

Serves to reinforce the importance of Disaster Preparedness

NEW YORK – (April 4, 2013) – Next to oxygen, water is the most essential element of human life. However, it is a serious threat to objects of art. according to AXA ART’s Fine Art Expert, Matthew Knight. “Water can be hazardous to works of art in many forms. Whether from excessive humidity, accidental pipe burst (which the insurance industry defines as “falling water”) or from mother nature’s fury in the form of heavy rains or coastal flooding (defined as “rising water”); the presence of water has proven to be very damaging to all artworks, especially photographs”.  Knight goes on to say, however, “The risks can be reduced by carrying out simple precautions and having emergency disaster plans in place.”

Nowhere was water’s damaging effects to works of art more evident than from the unprecedented and costly super-storm, Hurricane Sandy. AXA ART had chosen a casualty of this storm for presentation at its lounge during the 2013 AIPAD Show.  On display were damaged photographs, To Fight with Crossed Arms, 2007, ed 4/5, by prolific Chinese contemporary artist, Ai Weiwei.

Christiane Fischer, President & CEO of AXA Art in the Americas observed, “Sandy was the costliest event for the art insurance industry by far and we are now living in a post-Sandy world. We all will need to adjust our disaster planning strategies to protect important works such as To Fight with Crossed Arms from becoming victims of water damage”.

Over its more than 50 years of operation, AXA ART has seen and settled a variety of natural disaster claims internationally.  The global art insurance specialist advises that while some accidental damages can neither be foreseen nor deterred,  there are practical steps that can be applied to prevent the total destruction of works of art whether on display, in transit or in storage. Key components in the planning strategies of collectors’ and galleries’ should include evacuation and catastrophe preparedness as well as maintaining proper storage for art collections and inventories.  “Ultimately our goal is to support collectors as they seek to safeguard the value and longevity of their collections”, Fischer concluded.

Reference AXA ART’s  Collection Management Series for general information gathered from conservators and worldwide expert partners on caring for collections.  For more detailed information on protecting your possessions, AXA ART’s Claims and Risk Management teams are available resources: http://www.axa-art-usa.com/artprotect/caring-for-collections/prevention.html 


The AIPAD Photography Show ran, April 4 – 7, 2013 at the Park Avenue Amory, 643 Park Avenue, New York City.

Note to Editor:
To Fight with Crossed Arms, depicts Ai Weiwei’s allegorical self-portraits as curator, artist, architect, and critic. The title, derived from a Marcel Duchamp quote about facing an enemy with nothing more than crossed arms, refers to diverting political persecutions and tactics with the neutrality of a stoic non-combatant stance. This collaborative approach with artists/architects, MAP Office (a Hong Kong-based duo), seeks to express a shared rejection of artistic and political oppression without revealing the game.

About AXA Art
International reach, unrivaled competence and a high-quality network of expert partners distinguish AXA ART, the only art insurance specialist in the world, from its generalist property insurance competitors. Over the past 50 years and well into the future, AXA ART has and will continue to redefine the manner in which it serves and services its museum, gallery, collector, and artist clients across the Americas, Asia, and Europe, with a sincere consideration of the way valuable objects are insured and cultural patrimony, is protected. In addition, AXA ART invests in risk-prevention awareness and cutting-edge conservation techniques as a measure to protect and preserve cultural heritage for generations to come.  For more information, visit www.axa-art.com.

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