While collectors and interior designers in the care of an art advisor take note of this fact early on, those who don’t may not know that there is a stark difference between an original work of art and a copy of an original work of art. Though there are several angles in which to assess the difference, one being how collectible the work is based upon supply and demand and current art market trends, this article looks at how an original “reads” to the human eye and behind the camera lens, offering a defense of the value of the original.
What is an original work of art?
An original work is one which the artist’s hand, or in some cases the skilled hand of the apprentice engaged to carry out the artist’s intent, is distinctly visible. Either way, the work shows the mark of the artist, exhibiting a solid tactility that speaks to the creator’s presence. Some qualities to look for, and this depends on the medium, are the texture of paint, the indentation of a plate mark, the line of a brushstroke, a fingerprint smudge and so forth. This definition has its “other” in many respects, as those familiar with Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke could quickly draw upon. But Lichtenstein’s medium and reference to a brushstroke as idea became the message, and therefore his commentary clearly exhibits the guiding arc of his artistic vision.
More often than not, however, collectors and their designers are not looking at an artist with as recognizable a visual impact as Lichtenstein, and so it is key to train the eye to see like an art professional. The following highlights two get-started tips. Please note that these are not intended to cover the finer points of prints and other related arguments associated with this topic.
Test the original next to the copy
If you or your interior designer are unsure how an original will look in a space versus the copy, try testing them both out. First, spend a few days living with the original; the next few days living with the copy. Take a mental picture and take notes, paying attention to how the rest of your objects and furnishings appear in proximity to the original and the copy. Do they have as great an impact? Do they look sharper, weaker, more distinct? Does the overall effect lend to the design strength, casting surrounding decor in a favorable light, or does it hinder? Finally, try placing them side-by-side for a few more days, scanning back and forth for difference. Should you still remain on the fence, take a photograph to confirm what you already suspect.
Get Up Close
Appraisers, curators, dealers, advisors and other fine art professionals examine a work closely for telltale signs of mass-production, a hallmark being the uniform, rhythmic application of color apparent in inkjet processing. A magnifying glass will easily confirm whether the work in question came off a commercial printer.
Whether the work under examination is a copy or reproduction of a painting, print or other medium, it is unlikely to read with as much gusto in your space as the original. Don’t risk letting your interiors fall flat. Do risk investing in original art.
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