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Lithographs Provide Pathway to the Masters

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  Everyone would love to own an original Picasso or a Van Gogh; however, the majority of people cannot do so, but they can have an authorized copy, and this is where lithographs come into play.  This is an authorized copy of an original work that was introduced first by the artist himself or another skilled craftsman.   The idea of lithographs originates when an artwork consumer truly wants to own one of the spectacular and original pieces of art, yet they are financially incapable of doing so. 

This method has significant value in the art world if the print quality is superior and the production numbers are modest.  The printing techniques and process that goes into creating lithographs are quite unlike most conventional methods.  The print-maker actually has to etch an image or text into metal plates or carve out the image on cubes of wood or and another type of soft, tangible material.  However, to create the authorized reproduction there is no etching required.  The artist uses pencils or greasy crayons to draw an imitation of the original piece of art.  This is drawn onto a stone tablet and is a very time consuming process. 

Once the image has been refurbished to the satisfaction of the original artist (or authority) the next step is turning it into a masterpiece that duplicates the original.  This process is based on the assumption that oil and water don't mix.  What the artist does is apply the oil-based ink to the plate and that immediately bonds with the greasy crayon lines.  The water is brushed onto the remaining non painted areas so the ink will not smear.  A piece of paper with a high cotton filling is put on top of the entire plate.  Then, the plate and the paper on top are placed into a press with slight pressure applied in order to transfer the ink. 

If this were only a pen and ink drawing – one press run would be sufficient; however, for a colored authorized copy of a magnificent Van Gogh painting, it may require several runs with four different color inks.  The same piece of paper is placed precisely over the re-inked metal plates, and in the course of time a satisfactory authorized copy has been created.  This same process is what is used to develop color pages in a newspaper.

Creating lithographs is a very time consuming process and very detailed.  Normally printing runs are maintained and kept low to preserve value.  Sometimes, a copy that is signed has a set of numbers set as a fraction in the corner; such as 15/200.  This actually means that the authorized copy is the fifteenth copy in a series of two hundred.  Some original artists were willing to authorize their pieces and others were not so eager to do so. 

There are various other ways of duplicating original artwork, so please, don't assume the Picasso print in the nearby art gallery is an actual duplication.  Be sure to ask the owner or proprietor to confirm the printing method that was used to compose the artwork.  Lithographs with a signature have a lot of collective value; however, the print quality may be variable, so when it comes to purchasing prints for sale, do some research and ask plenty of questions.


Back to main topic: Lithographs
Lithograph Prints Over Time
What Is A Lithograph And How Is It Made
What Is A Lithograph
The History Of Lithographie
Original Lithographs Are The Gold Of The Art World
Lithographs Online
Describing Litho, Which is Short for Lithograph

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