The Elephant in the Gallery


After reading Georges post on the George Thornton Gallery blog about the value of printmaking I had a world of comment gush up on me. I studied fine art and specialised in Print Making at Winchester School of Art waaaaaaay back in the eighties. I totally treasure printmaking as a beautiful alchemical process that more often than not exemplifies skills in drawing and composition that more free forms of two dimensional art dodge. There are many artists whose output in this genre at least equals their painterly production – Picasso, Goya & Bonnard spring to mind but the list far longer.

In his blog George discussed two of my favourite artists, Salvador & Bob. I admired Salvador quite a long time before I became a full blown Bobcat. Dali was an unmitigated transcendental genius. His drafting skill is beyond comprehension. He was also a master of self promotion and highly ‘brand aware’ half a century before the phrase birthed. Dali had a commercial awareness and understood his value. As a superstar artist of his generation he was subject to opportunistic fakery and this materialised in his Limited Edition Print activities. The up shot was that he signed thousands of blank sheets of paper. In doing this he undermined the value of not only the fakes but his own work but established a mystique around his work that elevated his own perceived stock.


I own a Dali print, maybe. It could be any number of things, a real print with a real signature, a fake print with either a real or fake signature or potentially a real print with a fake signature. At this distance I doubt the existence of many experts who could decipher the truth. Well done Salvador.

Dylan, in a much repeated interview in the mid sixties was described by a journalist as the ‘spokesman for a generation’. Dylan’s response was ‘No, I’m just a song & dance man’ perhaps the greatest understatement of his career. Dylan must be possessed of superhuman self confidence as he has always ploughed his own path musically. Even in recent years he has mystified audiences with ‘unusual’ versions of his classic songs and extreme vocal styles. Like Dali he is utterly self aware and brand loyal. His visual output has been just as idiosyncratic and subject to criticism as is music. By any stroke he isn’t a world class draughtsman and as with his music he has been accused of plagiarism. I don’t own a ‘Bob’ but I did buy the first ‘Drawn Blank‘ book (and paid a lot more than I did for the Dali print). I admire his process and have viewed the prints with interest. Being close to the types of processes that produce works of the type that are selling the process and supply chain is very interesting. You can’t buy a ‘Bob’ for much under £1000.00. The galleries that show these (Castle Galleries/Washington Green) report high levels of sales. Margins are misty but ‘the piece of paper’ would be less than 5% of the cost in it self and the margin to the artist and his management will be clear in the chain. Personally I think they are OK prints. They are however taking relatively small original pieces and enlarging well beyond their passable scale. This is plainly because something ‘big’ has a higher value than something ‘small’.
As with any work of art the value is determined by the market. Anybody who buys a Dylan on the basis of investment should consider caveat emptor. If I had a grand lying around I would buy one, not for any potential investment but because I would like to see it when I walked passed it every day rather than having to open a book. And strangely, on consideration it probably wouldn’t matter which picture it was as long as it had that 5 square centimeter pencil signature at the bottom. Oddly I received an invite to the 2013 edition review today.

Drawn Blank

That, (and here is where it gets misty) is my point. Art is like voodoo. It’s about memory, association, faith & connection. If what you see fits your expectation and you believe it’s from the place you think it’s from you will be happy with your experience. We all like to be connected to something bigger. It marks the lamppost in our cultural neighbourhood.

…..and if you would like to buy an original limited edition giclee print from an original lino block print circa 1986 called ‘Hope & Forgetfulness’ like the one at the top I have 6 only left with no intention to make any more. £35.00 each plus postage. Make a connection.

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Filed under Comment, Fine Art, Hipstamatic, iPhonography, Nottingham, Uncategorized

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