Art Collecting Terms

Art Collecting Terms

Originally, a master artist’s studio, with his apprentices or assistants. Now, a fancy way of saying the art was made by the assistants and signed by the superstar artist.

Certificate of Authenticity
 Certifies the authenticity of an individual piece in an edition and states the current market value.

Commercial Prints
 Reproductions, usually by photomechanical means: offset (4-color) lithography, digital, giclee (ghee-clay), including transfers to canvas. This is the Land of Limited Editions.

Contemporary (Art) 
The current art movements: what is being taught in art schools and what museums display in contemporary exhibitions today. Also loosely referred to as 20th Century or Modern Art. Experimental, new, tends to be provocative and/or shocking at times (when you walk into an exhibit and people are saying,”Oh, oh!”, it’s probably contemporary). Also means coincidence, as in “Cave drawing was the Contemporary Art of the Stone Age.”

 Lines on paper.

 Number of prints made from an original. This number generally does not include any artist proofs or any special editions.

Fine Art 
Apart from the connotation of quality and beauty, this refers to works that are originally conceived and made by the artist’s hand. This excludes imitations, copies and manufactured art and commercial art (illustrations, cartoons, design, etc.) and the studio arts and crafts(pottery, weaving, furnishings, fashion, etc.). Associated with High and Major visual arts: painting and drawing, sculpture, architecture. Purists lump printmaking, photography, video, etc. in the subcategory, “Minor Arts.”

Refers to high standards of finish or craftsmanship.

Fine Prints 
Painstakingly handmade in multiple (editions) using a press: woodcuts and relief prints, etchings and engravings, lithographs from the stone, silkscreens and stencil prints.

Gallery System
 The career path of the successful artist: Art School training and Master’s Exhibition, small or alternative galleries, building collector base and attracting museum attention, larger galleries in major cities, big museum shows and important collections. You get famous and then you die.

Limited Edition 
The number of prints made from an original has been restricted to a certain number. This number would appear on each printed piece as such; 50/500; number fifty out of five hundred prints.
Mass Marketed Art. (ie: Famous Artist Galleries, Famous Art Auctions, unbelievably cheap art – like $19. – $49. for a “couch size” painting) This is usually assembly -line, mass produced art from underdeveloped third world countries. Many people may work on each painting; one may do skies, another trees and another buildings etc., or a single worker may produce many pieces, duplicating the same painting over and over again. This art is usually poorly done copies of currently popular styles, color combinations and art trends.

Mixed Media
 Three or more materials used to make a work (pastel + ink + acrylic + sand, etc.). Not an art movement although some artists seem to think so.

 One-of-a-kind works on paper, made with the press and printed from a surface that is temporarily worked so as not to be re-inked and image reprinted. No edition.

Open Edition 
The print produced has an unlimited size. The print may or may not be signed by the artist. An unsigned, unnumbered print is basically just a poster.

 Buying an original means you have the only one. It is the actual painting or work of art done by the artist. Most times, no reproductions are made of a painting. When a print has been made, the original painting is what was photographed for the reproduction. This makes the original to a limited edition print more valuable in that the piece becomes well known and more appreciated. Usually the original is larger than the print.

 Colored pigment on a flat surface.

 A reproof may mean several different things, depending on what the artist intented to say. Some possibilities are: 1. that an original piece has been reworked so as to eliminate what was considered to be faulty. 2. a new negative has been made 3. a work of art has been touched up (perhaps because the piece was damaged or peeling due to age) 4. a copy has been made from an original (“a reproofed copy”).

Three-dimensional art.

Sometimes refers to the signature on the plate itself, but is generally the artist’s actual signature on the print after printing.

Signed and Numbered
 Refers to an artist’s signature (generally in pencil) and the numbering of the edition.

Signed Only 
The print is signed by the artist only. It is not numbered and is sometimes referred to as an “open edition”.