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The True Value of Posters
Posted by Graphica on 11/17/2007 6:10:39 PM (ET)
Filed Under: General
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At the end of the nineteenth century there was a proliferation of commercial posters, which were pasted onto walls and hoardings as advertisements. Soon after, posters started to blend fine art with commercial art in an entirely new way. Designed to carry a message attractively and persuasively to even the most casual viewer posters were a means of communication rather than the expression of an artists expression. A poster usually contained both written text and visual information and when successful, conveyed the intended message clearly. Artists at this time began to exercise considerable creativity to convince the public to buy goods whether they were cigarettes or tickets to a cabaret. This let to people removing the poster to place in their home and then to people being prepared to buy the poster as a work of art in itself. Good examples of this are the posters made by Toulouse-Lautrec and Pierre Bonnard, which can be found in some museums. These posters were often produced by stone lithography and thus further complicate the advert versus genuine print debate.

Today the separation between poster and print is easier to make. The poster is still used mainly for advertising and is often well designed. Graphic designers are usually involved in making them and fine artists are seldom used anymore. The poster can still be collectors' items, such as the poster for the original Soprano series, but they are not in themselves considered valuable fine artworks.

In recent years, most posters are printed on cheap thin glossy paper that is not acid-free and with inks that are pigmented and light fast. Printed using the most up to date printing technology and their production is dominated by the commercial and advertising world. They are usually printed in huge runs and cannot be considered limited editions. Sometimes artists will print a poster to advertise their exhibition at their local print shop, such as FedEx Kinkos's. Sometimes the artists will sign and even number them, but these are considered souvenirs rather than original prints. Today, most consumer printers can easily match or surpass the qulaity of a commercial poster.

Limited edtions original prints and fine art prints are printed using sophisticated printing techniques such as lithography or serigraphy. They are printed on thick archival quality paper or canvas with inks that last for decades. Besides the exquisite quality of a fine art print, limited edition prints are valuable and may appreciate in value depending on certain factors. Another high quality fine art printing medium is Giclee prints, which are created typically using professional printers. These modern technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. The Giclee printing technology utilizes microscopically fine droplets of ink to form the image. A Giclee can consist of nearly 20 billion ink droplets. The microscopic droplets of ink vary in sizes (approximately the size of a red blood cell) and density. This unique patented feature produces a near continuous tone image, smoother gradation between tones, and a more finely differentiated color palette. Numerous examples of giclee prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries. Recent auctions of giclee prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.)

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