Like teenagers everywhere, fine art prints are so misunderstood. The uninitiated sometimes confuse fine art prints with reproductions, or think of them as fake or over-produced. But for artists like the ones who made the works in this year's Important Summer Auction - Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Motherwell, Anish Kapoor, Alex Katz, and more - printmaking was (and still is, for the living artists) an art form in and of itself that informed their work in other media.

By looking at an artist’s prints in the context of his entire ouevre, it is often possible to see him working out a creative theme in several formats at once. He will use prints as the springboard for a painting, or take insight from the results of the printmaking process to apply to other methods. It's important to emphasize, however, that fine prints are original works in their own right, conceived independently of works in other media.
Some artists find one type of printmaking that suits them, while others experiment with several. Picasso, for instance, mastered many forms of printmaking, exploring the different subtleties of expression inherent in pulling prints from varying surfaces like wood, metal, or linoleum. The Important Summer Auction included not only two of Picasso's etchings, but also a three dimensional ceramic multiple.
Pablo Picasso (Spanish, 1881–1973), Peintre et modèle avec femme nue allongée et deux spectateurs
Unlike painting or sculpture, printmaking is also a collaborative effort - the artist’s creative process is enhanced by the artistic expertise and technical skill of the printmaker. Robert Motherwell had his own etching and lithography press in his studio, but he hired master printmaker Catherine Mosley to execute his vision, and the two worked closely together for nearly 20 years. Other artists develop relationships with one or more established publishing company. Each printmaking technique requires immense skill and attention to detail, and so finding a printmaker who understands his vision is essential to the final artwork.

Fine art prints are an accessible way to collect an artist’s work, and provide an otherwise obscured layer of insight into the artistic thought process. Highlights from the fine art prints that were offered in the Important Summer Auction can be seen below.

View the full results from The Important Summer Auction
Saturday, June 13th
10:00am (EDT)