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Prints, Reproductions: Clarifying Differences

June 18, 1995

Re: Kathy M. Kristof's "The Art of Buying Art" (May 29).

Incomplete contrast was made between hand-printed, limited edition original prints and photo-lithographic reproductions.

* Original prints: All the process of making stencils or plates, depending upon the medium used, is handwork done by the artist or the master printer under the artist's supervision. During the printing each sheet of paper is placed and aligned in the press by hand. (Serigraphs, the most popular original prints, may have well over 100 colors. For each color a stencil and printing are required.) Following the printing, the curating assures that only those impressions acceptable to both the artist and printer are included in the edition. Each is then titled, numbered, dated and signed by the artist in pencil. Editions rarely exceed 500 in quantity. Stencils or plates are then defaced or destroyed to prevent further printings. A certificate of authenticity confirming this, signed by the artist, accompanies each print.

* Photo-lithographic reproductions: Intricate color separations performed by a master photographer are the basis of this process of reproducing an image. Once the high-speed printing press has been fed the color information, thousands, even millions, of examples may be produced with a minimum of personal intervention. As beautiful as they are, the resulting poster reproductions, cards and book illustrations cannot be considered works of art in the category of hand-printed serigraphs, lithographs, etchings and engravings.

To become familiar with the various processes, the new collector should examine with the aid of a magnifying glass an original print and a photo-lithographic reproduction.

ALBERT J. DESROSIERS

Los Angeles

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