If an original painting by Sam Francis was beyond your budget, then you should have gone to the London Original Print Fair, where Bernard Jacobson has prints for sale, including Sam Francis’ “Senza Titolo II (Untled II)” from 1987 (and already sold when I visited).
Prints, in all their forms, produced by artists have always been popular but have risen in artistic importance, as evidenced two major exhibitions, “The American Dream: Pop to Present” at the British Museum in London and, with overlapping artists, “The Great Graphic Boom” at the National Gallery in Oslo. In London this week, the 32nd London Original Print Fair took over the main floor of the Royal Academy with over 50 galleries and printers from London to New York showing what a lively artform it is, with well-known names such as Picasso, Miro, Elizabeth Frink, David Hockney, Peter Blake and Andy Warhol alongside new and up-and-coming artists.
As a plus, the definition of an original print has been stretched into collage (Anne-Marie James), engraved ceramics (Andrew Raftery) with other ceramics by Picasso, tapestry (Paula Rego), plastic forms (Peter Blake) and bronze (Paul Coldwell). Among the work in show, the most interesting perhaps are those that are sets (such as Ibrahim El-Salahi’s “The Tree”, Peter Blake’s “Alphabet Letters”, Tacita Dean’s “FILM stills” and Laure Prouvost’s “Ideally here the roof be open”), though some can be sold individually, and the works that create fantastic imaginary and sometimes sinister worlds (such as Grayson Perry’s “Map of Nowhere”, Tobias Till’s “Inferno” and, combining modern technology with a classical Piranesian world, Emily Allchurch’s “Capital Folly after Piranesi”). Given the way that the artworld is moving, it will not be surprising to see digital technology at future Fairs.
And, the good news is that, judging by the scattering of red dots across the Fair, original prints remain popular and affordable with collectors.