Art collecting...for others...

There is something to be said about collecting art for someone else...it's not as much fun as doing it for me! I'm at a stalemate right now for two different clients seeking two different artworks - one is for the ever elusive work - the rare work that isn't even on the market yet by Wayne Thiebaud, and the second is for the Hamaguchi "Watermelon Slice"...if you know of a private Thiebaud or this Hamaguchi, please please do let me know!!!

On another note...artnet reviewed a book I read about art collecting a while ago. Have a look at what artnet has to say!


Watermelon Slice

A favorite client ran in last week! She dropped in right after work with exciting news...she's looking for Yozo Hamaguchi's "Watermelon Slice"...oh... We had that work a few years ago on exhibition. She fell in love with it then, but wanted something by Lucien Freud. Oh. I wonder if she ever got the Freud ...did you hear about the portrait he painted that was destroyed by the sitter? Wow. Back to Hamaguchi. Once upon a time, long ago, there was an art dealer in San Francisco who was Yozo Hamaguchi's exclusive gallerist, with print after precious print available for the taking, actually, for the eligible taking, as his prices were rather high. As anyone who follows Hamaguchi's work know, the prints were rare and precious by virtue of making - a mezzotint is an exquisitely difficult labor of love that can be forever damaged by the slightest touch. Prices for Hamaguchi's work soared during his lifetime, and seemed to hover at ethereal levels after his death, only to come crashing at the dawn of the 21st century, when every auctioneer from east to west suddenly had one available. Today, I can't find "Watermelon Slice" anywhere, and I do wish I could because I have a client that would love to own it. Let me know if you're willing to sell it...


What is an original print?

Seattle's Davidson Galleries defines it as follows:

The word "print" is commonly used to refer to objects in two distinct categories:

1) Original impressions transferred directly from a matrix manually generated by an artist

2) Photographic or digital reproductions of works originally executed in other media

Photo reproductions and original prints can both be produced in “limited” or “signed” editions and produced by the same processes, such as lithography or silkscreen. Shared descriptive terminology allows for confusion over the term “print.” However, there is a significant difference between the intrinsic value of an original print and a photo reproduction print.

The defining distinction for originality is the artist's intention when conceiving and executing the work. When the artist selects a specific medium to produce an image, only that medium or combination of media can be considered "original."

While some original prints are appraised for tens of thousands of dollars, photographic or digital reproductions of original artworks are not intrinsically worth much more than the cost of production (even if they are published in "limited editions" and marketed for high prices.) Unfortunately many buyers are misled by vague or inaccurate descriptions to spend significant amounts on reproduction prints that are considered by museum and print experts to have neither artistic merit nor real monetary value.

Davidson Galleries exhibits and sells original prints printed from surfaces generated by the artist and intended from the outset for that purpose. These include lithography, serigraphy, etching, engraving, mezzotint, woodcut and monotype. We do not appraise or sell reproductions.

Print Glossary

a la poupée: Plate inking technique where different colors are applied only to individual areas rather than using a separate plate for each color printed in succession. This requires enormous control to keep the colors from bleeding at edges where different colors abut.

aquatint: A "wet" technique for creating tones using the action of acid on a metal plate. The area to be treated is sprayed or sprinkled with a resin or paint particles which partially protect portions of that surface. The acid etches the areas not protected, resulting in a textured printing surface.

artist's proof: A certain number of impressions pulled outside of a numbered edition for the artist. Artist's proofs are designated on the print with the letters "AP" in pencil usually in the lower left where the edition number is located. The French term "epreuve d'artiste" is also frequently used, noted by the letters "EA." Artist's proofs have the same value as work from a numbered edition.

chine collé: A process for laminating two sheets of paper, one carrying the image information, together in the course of printing.

collograph: A printing surface built up by collaging which is then sealed to prevent ink absorption and to permit multiple impressions to be printed.

edition: A numerical designation indicating the number of impressions pulled or printed from the completed print matrix. In fraction format, the top number indicates the specific impression while the bottom number represents the total number printed.

engraving: A "dry" technique employing a tool called a burin to remove portions of the metal plate surface by incision. Those marks when inked end up carrying the image information.

etching: A "wet" technique using acid to mark (etch) the surface of a copper or zince plate where permitted by the selective removal of the protective surface covering called a ground.

mezzotint: A "dry" technique requiring extensive plate preparation using a tool called a rocker to uniformly mark the surface. Image generation comes from scraping and burnishing down the rough surface to control the range of printed tones.

monoprint: A single impression pulled from a surface which has editionable qualities but where unique applications do not produce an edition.

monotype: Image printed from a plate or surface which carry no permanent mark and transfer cannot allow for edition repetition.

state: Condition of the printing surface documented by one or more impressions reflecting changes undertaken by the artist to that surface.

woodcut: An image created by inking and printing what remains of the original surace of a piece of wood, working across the grain.



I like this name for my profession - and I like the NY Times article that defines it! It's a perfect job description.



If you'd like to begin collecting art as an investment, or for whatever visual pleasures you seek to indulge, there are a few things to learn.

An easy-on-the wallet way to begin is to purchase a multiple original. This means your art purchase has siblings, editions, or commonly known as: copies. Depending on the artist, a multiple original is considered original because it’s part of a limited group of work the artist selected with the belief that the original work will enjoy a high demand. Multiple originals are generally more affordable than singular or one-of-a-kind works, which is why they’re a good place to begin an art collection. The reason is, the artist believes the selected multiple original will have broad appeal, which he's decided to multiply, and offer a copy of it to more than one collector, making it’s price more accessible to new collectors.

Pictured at right is an image from Roberto Matta's closed editions series, "Carne Amont."

Collecting Fine Art

Collecting fine art is a funny/serious thing in our contemporary time. It's been a delicate matter since art patrons realized that supporting their favorite artists was an ongoing investment, the price of pleasing some visual indulgences as costly and addictive as a favorite cocktail...and did we mention the keeping up with the Jones' syndrome? Okay, let’s discuss this seriously.

I’d like to start with personally defining fine art. Wikipedia (you're reading a digital article, right? so let's keep it digital) defines
fine art as "any art form developed primarily for aesthetics rather than utility.[1] This type of art is often expressed in a limited number of visual and performing art forms, including painting, sculpture, dance, theatre, architecture and printmaking. Schools, institutes, and other organizations still use the term to indicate a traditional perspective on the art forms, often implying an association with classic or academic art." Mirriam-Webster states fine art is defined as a function dating to 1739. It is further defined as: 1 a: art (as painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects —usually used in plural b: objects of fine art and 2: an activity requiring a fine skill.
The definitions go on and on, please click on Mirriam-Webster or Wikipedia for the full source definitions, I'm sure you get the general idea. In my case, and for purposes of this blog, I want to discuss collecting painting and sculpture.