Monday, September 27, 2010

Buying Art (Lesson 2): Authentic Art Reproductions vs Fakes

Now-a-days, with the advancements or high-end photocopiers and the low cost of color copies in general, seeing unauthorized "prints" of artists' work at swap meets is not entirely uncommon.

Enlarged dot pattern in b&w printing.
Enlarged dot pattern in color printing.

Any reproduction made from a reproduction, is lower in quality, because it is another generation (or "step") away from the original painting. At each "step" away from the original painting, there is a degradation of quality. Usually, the color is off. and the image may appear fuzzy or out of focus. And often, if copied from an offset lithograph, the 'dot pattern' created during the original reproduction process is visible on the unauthorized copy, causing what is called a moire pattern.

Moire pattern
So, how do you know if it's an authentic reproduction, authorized or licensed by the artist? Aside from the telltale signs I've mentioned, there's an old saying, 'if it's too good to be true....'  For example, you've seen an artist's reproductions selling for $500 and up, and you spot some at a swap meet, for $20, chances are very good that they are unauthorized photocopies of the original print. Not only are they low quality, but whoever has made the copies, is actually breaking the law. It is a case of copyright infringement.

What about really famous art/artist, like say the DaVinci's "Mona Lisa". We've all seen her likeness used hundreds of times. Paintings like the "Mona Lisa" pre-date copyright laws. That being said, any new reproduction (especially those altered in some way from the original image) is subject to the same copyright laws as contemporary art.

Some artists, like Michael, go a little further in ensuring you know you have an authentic reproduction. Since 1997, Michael's Limited Edition Prints and Artist Proofs with Remarque have been accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity and are embossed with his Studio Seal. [The following prints were released prior to the decision to include Certificates: Evolution of a Legend, Desert Snakes, Mach Speed, Thoroughbreds and Kings of the Road.] Michael's limited edition reproductions are all hand-signed and numbered, as are his Certificates of Authenticity.

If you should find yourself at an event where artwork is being offered, and you're unsure about a reproduction, the best way to verify that what you've seen is the real deal — contact the artist directly and ask them. This not only helps you make an informed decision, but helps him or her as well — giving them a chance to "catch the thief" and protect their work, their authorized dealers, and you (their client) from being ripped off. — Linda

1 comment:

  1. wow! excellent work! I always like to read your blog post :)