IS AN ORIGINAL PRINT ?
WHAT IS A
LIMITED REPRODUCTION PRINT ?
SERIGRAPHY AND SILKSCREEN
HOW IS AN
ORIGINAL LITHOGRAPHY MADE ?
WHAT IS AN
ORIGINAL PRINT (OR ORIGINAL GRAPHIC)
An Original Print is not a reproduction. It is the multiplied original work
of art. The artist creates with his own hand the artwork directly onto the printing
stock (plate, screen, stone etc.). The complicated
graphic techniques make it necessary for the artist to study and acquire special
abilities and knowledge for each chosen medium. Each Original print is then
pulled by hand from one or more printing stocks (not necessarily by the artist
himself). Each so created print is an "Original Print". It does not
matter whether 1 or 10,000 prints have been made. But the artist usually limits
the edition and approves it with his signature. (This can influence the price,
but not the originality). The main processes used for modern original printmaking
are: Lithography, Etching, Woodcut and Screenprinting Techniques.
A LIMITED REPRODUCTION PRINT ?
A Reproduction Print is a multiplied copy of an existing artwork. Usually a
painting, watercolour or any other work of art is photographed and then photochemically
or mechanically colour separated and printed. The so mechanically reproduced
original artwork is a reproduction. It does not matter whether it is limited
and signed, it still is only a Reproduction Print. In recent years a new type
of Reproduction Prints has appeared, so called "Limited Edition" Prints.
These still are only normal Reproductions and not Original Prints. Unfortunately
this confusion is sometimes deliberately chosen by some artists to get inflated
prices for an ordinary Reproduction Print. Original Printmaking has a long history.
Woodcuts have been invented by Chinese Buddhist monks in 868. Western artists
like Rembrandt made Etchings and Engravings (Antique Prints) long before the
photomechanical Reproduction was developed around 1900. Original Prints like
any other Original Art are also bought and sold at Art Auctions and can have
investment value. Some modern Original Prints sell for ten thousands of Dollars.
Art Consultants agree - better to buy a good Original Print than a bad oil painting.
SERIGRAPHY AND SILKSCREEN
Screenprinting is the only major new printmaking development in the 20th century.
Its origin, the stencil process, has been known to artists for centuries. The
basic principle is simple. Ink is pushed through tiny holes of a screen. Those
screens used to be made from silk (therefore silkscreen printing). Today most
screens are nylon or polyester. The areas which should not print are masked
or blocked out by stencils or by drawing or painting onto the screen with liquid
screen fillers. Industrial screenprinting uses mainly photochemically transferred
images onto the screen. In Fine Art the technique is also called Serigraphy.
The artist paints directly onto the screen, for every colour a new screen. Inks
can be opaque or transparent. An artwork can be built up by as many as 50 or
more different coloured screens. Most suitable are bold, bright and strong images.
This was ideal for the pop artists in the 1960s, such as Warhol, Lichtenstein
etc. who discovered screenprinting as a popular new artform. Many contemporary
artists use screenprinting as the most suitable medium for their individual
type of artwork. Some rare screenprints can have a price tag of $ 100,000 and
more. Lichtenstein was still working in screenprinting shortly before he died.
One of his latest "Interior Series" fresh from the press had a release
price of US $ 25,000./ each print. This shows that serigraphs are definitely
a recognised modern artform with potential for investment value.
HOW IS AN
ORIGINAL LITHOGRAPHY MADE ?
Lithography, invented in 1798 by the German Aloys Senefelder, is based on the
natural antipathy of oil and water. The drawing is made directly onto a lithographic
stone with a greasy crayon or ink. The drawing is then bonded with a chemical
(gum Arabic) to the surface of the stone to make it fully water resistant. The
stone is moistened and greasy printing ink applied with a roller. The ink is
picked up by the greasy image and rejected by the damp areas. After printing
with a special lithographic press the greasy image remains on the stone and
the process of moistening, inking and printing is repeated. The Bavarian (State
of Germany) limestone is still considered the best material for art lithography.
Some artists use metal plates now (zinc and aluminium) which are easier to handle.
Colour Lithography or "Chromo Lithography" was developed by Engelmann
and Lasteyrie in 1816. In principle handmade Colour Lithography requires as
many stones as the numbers of colours used. Wunderlich has developed techniques
which allow some colours to be printed from the same stone. Original Lithographs
often are called "multiple" originals. They are not a copy. Because
of the skilled craftsmanship and handwork involved with each separate print,
each completed print is an original work of art, no matter how large the edition
is. Original Lithography should never be confused with "Offset Lithographic
Reproductions" which are simply copies of existing artworks. Some smart
artists sign and number them and call them "Limited Editions", but
these prints have absolutely nothing in common with the fine and skilful art
of making an Original Lithograph. You don't need to be a professional to see
the difference. Most Offset Lithographs are made up of thousands of tiny dots,
easily seen by looking through a magnifying glass, and only 4 colours are used:
red, blue, yellow and black. Original Lithographs are made of solid colours.
Intaglio comes from Italian, meaning "cut in". The images are engraved,
incised or etched below the surface of the printing plate. Ink is forced into
these grooves and a press exerting great pressure is needed to transfer the
images onto the dampened paper. Because of the pressure, the outline of the
plate leaves a typical mark on Intaglio Prints. The most common types of Intaglio
Prints are: Aquatint, Drypoint, Engraving, Etching, Mezzotint, Soft Ground Etching.
Etching was discovered in the early 16th century. With this new technique available,
engraving suffered a rapid decline. The artist does not have to cut directly
into the plate - the acid does it for him. A metal plate, normally copper,
is covered with a thin layer of acid resistant black "ground". Using
an etching needle, the artist draws freely (almost like pencil on paper) into
the ground, exposing the bright metal below. An acid bath "bites"
into the metal. The longer the acid bath, the deeper the lines (tones) will
be. The biting is stopped with a varnish. The plate is then cleaned of the "ground".
Ink is forced into the grooves and the surface of the plate wiped clean. Colour
Etching is achieved in two ways, either by using a separate plate for each colour
or by carefully applying several colours on the same plate. Therefore the artist
has to decide at the beginning which technique he wants to use. Original Colour
Etchings should not be confused with handcoloured Etchings, which are black
and white etchings, handcoloured after printing. Aquatint: Aquatint is used
in conjunction with etching to create tonal areas. Fine resin dust is fused
onto the plate before etching. Mezzotint: The plate is roughed up with a "rocker"
to get burred lines. The burrs are scraped and polished away where the image
should appear. Engraving: The image is engraved with a "burin" directly
into the plate. The burrs extruding from the grooves are burnished away before
inking. Drypoint: The lines are drawn on a "dry" plate. The burrs
are not polished and hold the ink, which wear quickly. Soft Ground The artist
draws on paper, which is laid on top of the plate covered Etching: with a special
ground, transferring the image onto the plate before it is etched.