For the majority of us, picking up a print is the closest we’ll ever get to hanging work by a modern master in our homes. They may lack the glow of a true original, but signed editions are an affordable and accessible way to pack the walls with big names without stumping up big bucks for the privilege.
It is in this spirit that two Dubai galleries have assembled a collection of signed prints, lithographs and select unique pieces by some of the defining names in art from the past 100 years.
Currently at Pro Art Gallery, tucked away in Palm Strip Mall opposite Jumeirah Mosque, is Editions: Prints and Multiples, which throws together signed prints by modern masters such as Alberto Giacometti and Pablo Picasso with street-art luminaries such as the stencillers Banksy and Blak Le Rat, the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein and several key figures in contemporary Chinese art.
“Prints and multiples are not only finding their true value but are also democratising the art market,” says Tatiana Faure, the director of Pro Art Gallery.
Faure refers to the strength of prints and lithograph works at auctions internationally: “Entry-level buyers and collectors have been rushing in recent years to this more affordable side of the art market. Prints and multiples offer investors with as little as a few hundred to hundreds of thousands of dollars the chance to get into art and buy a big name.”
Highlights of the print selection include the now very familiar frozen grin of Yue Minjun, who was among the leading lights in the Chinese art boom of a few years ago and works in oil to represent his cynicism about China’s transition from communist revolution to economic giant with a bitter, strained smile.
Meanwhile, on the urban art side of this vast collection, there are a number of originals and prints by Mr Brainwash, the “star” of Banksy’s documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop. Many still speculate that Banksy, who keeps his identity secret, invented Mr Brainwash, the pseudonym of Thierry Guetta, as an elaborate hoax and a pointed criticism of how the art world can invent anyone as an artist.
From November 13, Total Arts at The Courtyard in Al Quoz will be showing a selection of signed posters that were first exhibited in Tehran in the 1980s, soon after the Iranian revolution.
Posters of work by the American artists Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, including Johns’s famous recreation of the US flag, were brought to 13 Vanak Street, a gallery in Tehran, at a time when it was impossible to get original art in and out of the country. They were images from a world that became ever farther away as Iran looked inward in those early, unstable years of the republic. To make these reproductions more personal, Fereydoun Ave, the founder of the gallery and an artist himself, contacted each artist and asked him to sign his posters.
The pieces from that historic exhibition are joined by prints by the likes of Christo and Jean-Claude, including an image of their planned sculpture of barrels that would have been enacted in the UAE, as well as Andy Warhol and an original by Twombly, who died earlier this year.
Editions: Prints and Multiples continues at Pro Art Gallery until November 30. The Total Arts at Courtyard exhibition of prints runs from November 13 to 28