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Limited edition prints
Limited edition prints, also known as LE's, have been standard in printmaking from the nineteenth century onwards. A limit to the print run is crucial, as many traditional printmaking techniques can only produce a limited number of best quality impressions. This can be as few as ten or twenty for a technique like drypoint, but more commonly would be in the low hundreds - print runs of over a thousand are regarded as dubious by the serious art market for original prints, even though with many techniques there is no loss of qualcity.
Edition sizes higher than about 500 are likely to be of print reproductions of paintings, of much less value, though some modern techniques blur this traditional distinction. As in other fields, the use of the concept has become largely driven by marketing imperatives, and has been misused in parts of the market. In particular, lithographic, photogravure, rotogravure, and giclee reproductions of prints, derived from photographs of an original print, which are most unlikely to have any investment value, are often issued in limited editions implying that they will have such value. These need to be distinguished from the original artist's print, carefully produced directly from his work, and printed under the artist's supervision.
In UK and New Zealand the Fine Art Trade Guild ensures the quality and verification of limited edition prints by employing a number of strictly administered regulations for all processes and aspects related to them.
In the United States limited editions are regulated under state consumer protections laws. California became the first state to regulate the sale of limited edition art prints with the "California Print Law" of 1971. The state of Illinois later expanded on the California statute. However, it was not until 1986 that more comprehensive provisions, still in place today, were enacted with the passage of the "Georgia Print Law". That law became the template for statutes subsequently enacted by other states. The Georgia Print Law written by (former) State Representative Chesley V. Morton, became effective July 1, 1986. The law requires art dealers, artists, or auctioneers to supply information to perspective purchasers about the nature of the print, the number of prints and editions (including HC editions) produced, and the involvement (if any) of the artist in the creation of the print. The penalty for violation of the law ranges from simple reimbursement to treble damages, in the case of a willful violation. Those found to be in violation of the law are also liable for court costs, expenses, and attorney fees. The law applies to works of art valued at more that $100.00 (not including frame). Charitable organizations are specifically exempt from the provision of the law. The statute of limitations is one year after discovery, and, if discovery of the violation is not made within three years of the sale, then the purchaser?s remedies are extinguished.
A limited edition is normally hand signed and numbered by the artist, typically in pencil, in the form (e.g.): 14/100. The first number is the number of the print itself. The second number is the number of overall prints the artist will print of that image. The lower the second number is, the more valuable and collectible the limited editions are likely to be, within whatever their price range is. A small number of "artists' proofs" may also be produced as well, signed and with "AP", "proof", etc. Prints that are given to someone or are for some reason unsuitable for sale are marked "H. C." or "H/C", meaning "hors de commerce", not for sale
Fine art photography is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to photojournalism, which provides a visual account for news events, and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.
One photography historian claimed that "the earliest exponent of 'Fine Art' or composition photography was John Edwin Mayall, "who exhibited daguerrotypes illustrating the Lord's Prayer in 1851". Successful attempts to make fine art photography can be traced to Victorian era practitioners such as Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and Oscar Gustave Rejlander and others. In the U.S. F. Holland Day, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen were instrumental in making photography a fine art, and Steiglitz was especially notable in introducing it into museum collections.
In the UK as recently as 1960, photography was not really recognised as a Fine Art. Dr S.D.Jouhar said, when he formed the Photographic Fine Art Association at that time - "At the moment photography is not generally recognized as anything more than a craft. In the USA photography has been openly accepted as Fine Art in certain official quarters. It is shown in galleries and exhibitions as an Art. There is not corresponding recognition in this country. The London Salon shows pictorial photography, but it is not generally understood as an art. Whether a work shows aesthetic qualities or not it is designated 'Pictorial Photography' which is a very ambiguous term. The photographer himself must have confidence in his work and in its dignity and aesthetic value, to force recognition as an Art rather than a Craft"
Until the late 1970s several genres predominated, such as; nudes, portraits, natural landscapes (exemplified by Ansel Adams). Breakthrough 'star' artists in the 1970s and 80s, such as Sally Mann and Robert Mapplethorpe, still relied heavily on such genres, although seeing them with fresh eyes. Others investigated a snapshot aesthetic approach.
American organizations, such as the Aperture Foundation and the Museum of Modern Art, have done much to keep photography at the forefront of the fine arts.
Framing and print size
Until the mid-1950s it was widely considered vulgar and pretentious to frame a photograph for a gallery exhibition. Prints were usually simply pasted onto blockboard or plywood, or given a white border in the darkroom and then pinned at the corners onto display boards. Prints were thus shown without any glass reflections obscuring them. Steichen's famous The Family of Man exhibition was unframed, the pictures pasted to panels. Even as late as 1966 Bill Brandt's MoMA show was unframed, with simple prints pasted to thin plywood. From the mid-1950s to about 2000 most gallery exhibitions had prints behind glass. Since about 2000 there has been a noticeable move toward once again showing contemporary gallery prints on boards and without glass. In addition, throughout the twentieth century, there was a noticeable increase in the size of prints.