Boost Your Art Collection with Fine Art Limited Edition Prints

Whether you are just beginning an art collection or are already a committed buyer, fine art prints are a great way to own distinctive works by major artists. 

By: Tricia Drevets | May 1, 2015

Pablo Picasso, 

Les Faunes et la Centauresse

(Faunes and the She-Centuar),

1947, signed lithograph, 42/50, 

Photography Courtesy of Lofty

With the world’s best paintings going for prices at auction that only the top 1% of the market can afford, fine art prints offer an affordable way to invest in the work of a well-known artist. However, before you search for your favorite artists to see what is available, it is essential to know what a fine art print is – and what it is not.

 

A fine art print is an original design created by an artist on a surface that is then inked and transferred to another surface.  The technique used varies according to the artist and can include: etching, relief printing, silkscreens, engraving and lithography.

 

Fine art prints are made in limited editions, a set of identical images or “impressions” that are signed and numbered. Most editions are limited to 50 or 100 copies, with the exception of Andy Warhol’s screen prints, which are often numbered to 250. A print matrix or plate often is cancelled with an “X” mark to ensure that no further prints will be made of that image.

 

“The term ‘print’ can be very confusing,” explains fine art print authority and art appraiser Elisabeth Hahn. “A fine art print is not a poster and it is not a photograph. It is not a reproduction... If I draw something on a piece of paper, it is a drawing. If I paint something on a canvas, it is a painting. If I etch something on a piece of metal – a design I have never made before in another medium – and I transfer it to paper, it is a print.”

 

Fine art prints have their roots in medieval times with woodcuts that were used to produce playing cards and religious images. During the Renaissance, master engravings became firmly established as fine art. Rembrandt and Goya prints, for instance, are among the most sought-after prints today. Picasso, an extremely prolific artist, created many series of prints, a fact that has made -- and still does make -- his work accessible to collectors today.

Pablo Picasso

Femme a la Chaise sur Fond Jaune,

Lithograph on Arches Paper,

Edition: 500, 34 AP’s

Courtesy of RoGallery.com

Joan Miro

Barcelona, Plate 12 (603),1973, Aquatint Etching and Carborundum,

Signed and numbered in pencil

Courtesy of RoGallery.com

Posters and giclées are often called prints, but they are not the same as fine art prints, and neither is their re-sale value. The difference can sometimes be found with the naked eye or with the use of a magnifying glass as the process of offset printing leaves a tiny dot matrix on the paper. Posters and giclées are machine-made prints with a clarity that can closely mimic the original, but they are not original fine art prints.

 

The value of a fine art print is determined by several factors: the reputation of the artist (which can vary according to tastes and trends), the significance of the work (which can vary along with the artist’s reputation), the number of prints the artist made of the image, whether the print is signed and numbered by the artist, and the condition of the print.

 

The market for fine art prints tends to follow the market for paintings and other works by the same artist. Currently the world art market is seeing a big interest in 20th century European artists, including Picasso, Miró and Matisse.  “With print collecting trends in general, an early Picasso print that is a very popular image and is in perfect condition is probably a better long-term investment than one of his later prints... but it can get tricky to talk about investment value. It is a very fickle market.”

 

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