Saturday, May 29, 2010


Jasper Johns, Flag-Moratorium, 1969, offset color lithograph
Clients often ask for more details relating to the medium of their work. Most people understand different types of painting methods but are often confused about the processes involved in creating prints. It is important for any collector to understand how their work was made. The more familiar you are with the work of an artist and his working method, the less likely you will be to purchase something that isn't what it is purported to be. Lithography is one of the more complicated processes because it has changed and advanced so many times over the years.
At first, lithographs were made by drawing an image into wax which was applied to lithographic stone and then that image was transferred onto paper. Today, the process of lithography is still similar to the older process but the materials artists and printers employ are different. Instead of wax, today's artists usually use polymer which is applied to an aluminum plate. The image is then printed directly from the plate onto the paper. In the case of offset lithography, the process is different still. Modern offset lithography depends on printing plates which are coated with a photosensitive emulsion. The printer puts the image and the emulsion in contact and then exposes it to ultraviolet light. In the printing press, the plate roles against a rubber coated blanket and the image is then transferred to the paper.
During the 20th century, lithography was re-discovered as an art form by artists such as Picasso, Chagall, and Miro. Mourlot Studios in Paris began to encourage artist to work on lithographic stones which could be produced in small numbers and then used to advertise the work of the artists. During the 1960s, Jasper Johns began to use lithography to produce the majority of his prints.

The offset lithographic print above by Jasper Johns from 1969 is entitled, Flag-Moratorium and is a color offset lithograph measuring 17.1" X 25.9". It is number 107 from and edition of 300. It will be auctioned in Germany on June 12, 2010. The estimate in US dollars for this work is $8,677 - $11,156.
You can view the auction here.

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