What is an Original Fine Art Print?

Galerie Michael   •  January 24, 2019

As the price of art skyrockets, museums, galleries and individuals are seeking Original Fine Art Prints. As a result, they have become highly collectible. Original Fine Art Prints are another form of art. Bydefinition, they are limited editions called “multiple originals” that have been executed by the artisthim/herself.

Original Fine Art Prints differ from art reproductions in keys areas. Reproductions are not createdby the artist, are usually photo‐mechanically reproduced, typically have an unlimited run, and have little monetary value as a result.

Printmaking as an art dates back to the Chinese, who began nearly 2,000 years ago, with more modern techniques appearing in Europe in the 15th century. There are three main categories in executing prints.

  • Relief:
    This is printing from a raised surface. Relief printing plates are made from flat materials such as wood, linoleum, metal, etc. After drawing on the surface, the artist uses tools to cut away the areas that will not print. A roller is used to spread ink onto the plate. As paper
    is applied, the paper accepts the ink in reverse of the host surface,
    creating a mirror images of the plate.

Types of relief printing include:

  • Woodcut: the oldest known printmaking method, where a design is drawn and
    carved into wood
  • Linoleum cut: uses a linoleum block instead of the previous standard—wood

Examples of linoleum cut from “Picasso in Color”:

Portrait de Jacqueline au Fauteuil, 1958

Nature morte au verre sous la lampe, 1962

Portrait de Jeune Fille,
d’après Cranach le Jeune. II, 1958
  • Intaglio:
    This technique is the opposite of relief, in that material is removed from the plate either through engraving or incision, usually done on a metal such as copper, zinc or steel. As ink is applied to the plate and wiped off of the surface, the ink is left only in the crevices. When paper is pressed onto the plate surface the lines are transferred into paper.
    Types of intaglio include:
  • Engravingo
  • Etching
  • Drypointo
  • Aquatint

Examples of intaglio from “Picasso in Color”:

La Femme à la Fenêtre, 1952

Corrida en Arles, 1952

Le Repas frugal, 1904

  • Lithography:

    This technique uses a surface that is flat—it neither has the raised characteristics of relief, nor the surface removal of intaglio. An image is applied to the plate using the repelling characteristics of oil and water, rather than relief on the plate. Plates therefore last a very long time. There are many variants of lithography.

L’Ecuyère et les Clowns, 1961

Buste au fond étoilé, 1949

Le Crapaud, 1949