signatures and added values

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Signature on canvas

A few years ago I was in a small place called Millthorp in NSW and staying at a friends place. Her two daughters had some noisy but nice and cheeky friends visiting them and they questioned, or preached maybe, to me about the madness of abstract art.

Another instance was in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra and a man was looking at a huge and beautiful Sydney Nolan. He said in a chuckling way: 'Don't you think I could do that too, Paul?', (he was a surgeon) and my answer was: 'Maybe P., who knows (trying to be polite) but the fact is you don't and he did'.

The kids in Millthorpe made it harder, so I had to trick them. I suggested: 'What if say Beyonce or Mick Jagger sat on a cushion in your room and find a tiny brown fart mark on your chair after one or the other had left . What would you do?'. 'Wash it, man, ugggh, how disgusting'. My answer: 'You are kidding yourselves, you'd cut it out and frame it! To all your friends it would look like you have an abstract art thing hanging on your wall'. After a while, one of the boys admitted that I could possibly be right.
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In abstract art, I call this 'the added value'. The value being that the artist did it with passion, love or whatever. He/she then signs it. His or her name is on it and maybe even a title. A signature saying: 'I did this!'.

This is what I am getting at: The Signature. I have made drawings and paintings, often small, and would love to sell prints in a limited edition, signed, stamped and numbered.

The old guys, from my beloved Rembrandt with his etchings to Toulouse Lautrec and many many others who made prints with the then known techniques. They made the prints themselves or engaged professional art printers. Toulouse Lautrec with his lithographs as posters to the the many artists who made lithographs to start with for a limited edition of 'fine art'.

Photography and scanning offer rather cold blooded reproductions. This is sniffed at by many and I do understand why.

I don't mind that, I DO sign, number and stamp some prints made via the photo/scan method. A signature of the before mentioned Mick Jagger on your baseball cap would be worth it's weight in gold.

In the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag (The Hague) they had an exhibition featuring the big etchers and they showed an original copper etching plate Rembrandt had used. It had been unceremoniously cross scratched and made unusable. No chance of possible counterfeits selling as original etchings by the Master!

Actually, it shocked me a little. I was only a student at the time. To me it seemed a little destructive and brutal and why? I now understand that money has a lot to do with this.

So limited editions, whatever way, MUST be done in an honest and 'limited' method. In Holland you are free to make prints of your lino cuts or lithographs and write on it E/D (eigen druk = printed for personal use) and unnumbered but often signed with a personal note added for your files or your friendly neighbor.

A friend of mine in the Hague is/was the artist Sees Vlag. He adheres scrupulously to numbering his prints! He made amazing work. Even to comprehend the technical side of how his lino prints were made, often out of one piece of lino and yet sometimes his work could have twenty colours or more, thus it was printed at least twenty times. He could work it out by printing the lightest of light colours first and working his way by cutting away to the darkest of dark colours, all on the same piece of lino!

So, do you want to buy my signature? Better buy a painting with my signature on it. Or maybe one of my limited edition prints, 1 to 25. I am shameless, I know.


Very interesting article, thanks for sharing!