What to Expect at the Fine Art Print Fair
While the world is increasingly going digital, there's still something to be admired about the artistic medium of printmaking and this fall you can check out over 80 exhibitors who are dedicated to this art at the Fine Art Print Fair. This will include the chance to see works spanning old master to contemporary, unique masterworks to new editions, including 27 international exhibitors from the United Kingdom, Spain, France, Germany, Mexico, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy and Ireland, as well as five distinguished first-time exhibitors. Read on to learn more about the Fine Art Print Fair from our interview with David Tunick, International Fine Print Dealers Association President and NYC gallery owner.
1. Tell us more about the Fine Art Print Fair.
How did the idea come about? We certainly didn’t invent the idea - art fairs date back to the 16th century - but they were few and far between by the 1980s. The art market landscape was changing dramatically in the 70s and 80s: the auction houses were challenging art dealers for audience, and it was a very serious crossroads. As a consequence the International Fine Print Dealers Association was founded in 1987, and our founding members quickly realized that an art fair was the smart way to go to meet the challenge. The first IFPDA Print Fair was in 1991, and it was an immediate success. It’s grown enormously since and is now the main event every year in the print world, attracting thousands of curators and collectors from all over the world. In what eventually has become a crowded fair environment, the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair is one of the last must-see fairs remaining. There’s nothing else that’s its equal in our field.
2. What pieces can we expect to see?
You will see beautiful, original works of art from early Renaissance to spectacular new editions by well-known artists and by artists still-to-be-discovered. There is an incredibly wide choice in every price range. Some of the booths sell out entirely. I, of course, am biased, but it is honest to say that the whole experience is an exciting goldmine for the eyes and the mind - truly inspiring whether you are educated in the field or an absolute neophyte.
3. Why are prints important to the art world?
I love this question, because original prints, which are the only kind of prints in the fair, can be overlooked, even by top collectors. But there is a confusion in the use of the word “print”. For most people it conjures up the kind of reproduction or poster art we liked on our walls in college. So, I, and my colleagues in the IFPDA, have spent our careers proclaiming the originality of original prints. What I tell students is that it’s like a Shakespeare sonnet vs a Shakespeare play: both are original and by Shakespeare, but the medium of expression takes a different form. The same with prints. Printmaking is a different medium - just as original and just as important as paintings, drawings, and sculpture to artists like Rembrandt, Goya, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Matisse, and Warhol, to mention a tiny handful.
4. What is the selection process like to get into the Fine Art Print Fair?
Members apply submitting a booth plan and as good an idea as they can in advance of the material they will exhibit. The fair is always oversubscribed with a waiting list, and our hard-working Fair Committee makes tough choices based on the applications and strives to achieve a balance reflecting the 700-year history of printmaking and the geographical spread of our member dealers. The most important criterion is quality, which broadly in our world means high enough merit to be in a museum.
5. What advice would you give for a first-time attendee?
Look, look, look; ask, ask, ask. Every dealer in the print fair is an expert in his or her field, and the venue offers them a once-a-year opportunity to relate to a public that by and large they don’t see nearly so much of any other time. They truly delight in answering questions and in teaching. When you see something you like that you can afford, and when you’ve answered most or all of the questions you may have had, take the plunge and acquire the best you can.
6. Anything else to add?
The universe of fine prints can open up worlds to you that you’ve never experienced.