University position on Tseng family collection


(The following are excerpts from a statement provided by university officials.)

Dr. Preusser has a demonstrated record of skill and independence. Before working for LACMA, Dr. Preusser had a 30-year-plus career in cultural heritage preservation, including the past 12 years conducting authentication analysis on artwork. Through his consulting firm, Dr. Preusser conducts hundreds of analyses each year.

In addition, Dr. Preusser has demonstrated independence in his work for the University Foundation. While he gave his strongest endorsement to all the Tseng pieces he authenticated, he did not authenticate various other Tseng artworks, which as a result were not accepted as gifts by the University Foundation. …

True authentication requires direct analysis, not only reviewing photographs. While some have offered opinions on the Tseng antiquities based on looking at photos, experts consulted by CSUN maintain that hands-on physical examination and scientific analysis is the only credible way to make sound authentication judgments, especially for ancient Chinese bronzes like those at CSUN. …

Views on authentication of Chinese art change as new pieces/styles are found. Because of the vast but still fragmentary history of ancient Chinese art, experts concede that authentic, newly discovered antiquities often face doubts if their styles do not match already recognized pieces or they lack a long and documented history of ownership. But, it is just those kinds of new discoveries that ultimately broaden our knowledge in the field.

Confusion between library’s 2004 public exhibit and Tseng donated artwork: The Oviatt Library’s 2004 public exhibit of Chinese art contained more than 100 pieces. Just three of those – the bronze ritual vessel, the bull and the stone axe blade – are among the eight current pieces in the Tseng Family Collection. The other 100+ exhibit pieces were all loaned from and later returned to the Tseng family.