Print collecting- how to begin and how to proceed

by leslierankowfinearts

EVERY AREA OF COLLECTING ART HAS ITS GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS. WHETHER OLD MASTER PAINTINGS, PHOTOGRAPHY, WORKS ON PAPER, SCULPTURE OR THE EDGIEST CONTEMPORARY ART, CONDITION, PROVENANCE, THE ARTIST’S MARKET VALUE IN THE CONTEXT OF HIS OR HER PEERS, AND THE EBB AND FLOW OF A PARTICULAR HISTORICAL PERIOD, ARE ALL FACTORS IN THE DECISION-MAKING PROCESS OF COLLECTING, THE ACQUISITION OF CERTAIN ARTISTS AND SPECIFIC WORKS AND THE POSSIBLE DEACCESSION OF OTHERS TO REFINE, UPGRADE OR ENRICH A PARTICULAR COLLECTION.

PRINT COLLECTING, PARTICULARLY MASTER PRINTS, HAS ITS OWN SPECIFIC CRITERIA AS WELL. WORKS  ARE AVAILABLE FROM SEVERAL SOURCES:  FROM THE SECONDARY MARKET  PRIVATELY, FROM SOLID GALLERIES OF NOTE THAT SPECIALIZE IN THIS AREA, OR FROM AUCTION SALES.   SASHA SCHWARTZ, DIRECTOR OF THE HIGHLY RESPECTED MASTER PRINTS DEPARTMENT OF PACE GALLERY, KNOWS ALL OF THE NUANCES OF THIS MEDIUM, COLLECTING PITFALLS AND ADVANTAGES. WE ARE LUCKY TO HAVE HER SHARE  WITH US HER KNOWLEDGE OF THE CURRENT MARKET AND THE FUTURE OF PRINT COLLECTING .

HOW LARGE AN EDITION IS CONSIDERED ACCEPTABLE OR DOES IT VARY BY ARTIST OR BY THE ACTUAL WORK?

The size of an edition varies greatly, and ultimately, over a long period of time, does not affect value.

For example, most of Picasso’s and Matisse’s lithographs were printed in editions of 50.

Yet the famous series of etchings Picasso created in the 1930s known as the Vollard Suite was printed in editions of 300, and today a few from the series  are worth considerably more than other Picasso prints published in much smaller editions.   Likewise, the Matisse lithograph, The Striped Pantaloons,  printed in an edition of 50, is far and away  his most  valuable print even though many of his etchings and aquatints were printed in editions of only 25. The importance and desirability of a print within an artist’s oeuvre determines its value; of course supply and demand  can greatly affect price as well.

HOW DOES SOMEONE BEGIN TO COLLECT IN THIS AREA? WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA OF QUALITY? WHAT ARE THE CONDITION ISSUES THAT ARISE MOST FREQUENTLY?

When a collector is interested in any field of art it’s important he see as much material as possible.  For those who are fortunate enough to live in large urban areas such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, there are museums , galleries,  and art fairs where collectors can easily see many prints.  Connoisseurship is an important element in print collecting and there are many criteria that determine the value of one impression in an edition versus another. The condition of a print is crucial.  Is it a full sheet without any damage, are the colors fresh, is it properly signed and numbered?    Luckily, print catalogue raisonnes exist for almost all of the major artists where the correct information on dimensions, edition size, signature etc. is all clearly spelled out.

THANK YOU, SASHA, FOR PROVIDING SUCH ASTUTE ADVICE ON COLLECTING MASTER PRINTS.  NEXT TIME I LOOK FORWARD TO YOUR SHARING YOUR OWN EXPERIENCES AS A COLLECTOR IN THIS AREA AND YOUR SENSE OF THE FUTURE OF PRINT COLLECTING.

I LOOK FORWARD TO SPEAKING WITH YOU ON THESE SUBJECTS. IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS TO POSE IN THIS AREA OR SUGGESTIONS TO MAKE ABOUT FUTURE BLOG SUBJECTS, I WOULD WELCOME YOUR VIEWS.

UNTIL THEN!