Andy Warhol Prints
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What is an Original Print?

An "original print" is the Image on paper or similar material made by one or more of the processes described here. Each medium has a special identifiable quality but because more than one impression of each image is possible. "Original" does not mean "unique."

The artist's intention to create an original print is the key to the "originality" of the finished work. For example, if he first conceives of a watercolor, then has the result copied by woodcut, the result is not “original’ but merely a reproduction. The total number of prints made of one image is an "edition". The number may appear on the print with the individual print number as a fraction such as 5/25 meaning “edition" was 25 examples with this example numbered 5. If intended for use with a written text original prints will not likely be numbered (or hand-signed) and may be produced in very large editions.

COLOR: Blocks, plates, screens or two or more stones may be used, one for each color, printed on top of each other to produce the final print.

RESTRIKES AND CANCELLED PLATE PROOFS: Both are original prints but from unlimited editions usually printed after an artist's death.

WOODCUT: Made by cutting into the broad face of a plank of wood, usually with a knife. (The linocut is made by the same method, except that linoleum is substituted for wood.) In working the block, the artist cuts away areas not meant to print. These cut away areas appear in the finished print as the white parts of the design while the ink adheres to the raised ports.

WOOD-ENGRAVING: Made by engraving a block made up of pieces of end-grain, extremely hard wood. The block, being naturally much harder, enables the artist to engrave (rather than cut) a much finer line than is possible on the softer plank surface used for woodcuts.

COLLOGRAPH: Printing surface is built up on the plate or block by applying various materials which may also be incised.

ETCHING: A metal plate is coated by a material, which resists acid, called the ground. The artist then draws his design on the ground with a sharp needle that removes the ground where it touches it and, when the plate is put in an acid bath, these exposed parts will be etched (or eaten away). This produces the sunken line, which will receive the ink. In printing, the ink settles in the sunken areas and the plate is wiped clean. The plate in contact with damp paper is passed through a roller press and the paper is forced into the sunken area to receive the ink. The artist etches on the plate those parts, which will appear in the finished print as black or colored areas. White areas are left untouched. Depth of tone is controlled by depth of etch.

ENGRAVING: The design is cut into the plate by driving furrows with a burin, then the plate is printed.

DRYPOINT: The sunken lines are produced directly by diamond hard tools pulled across the plate. The depth of line is controlled by the artist's muscle and experience. The method of cutting produces a ridge along the incisions, called burr. This gives the dry point line the characteristically soft, velvety appearance a absent in the clean-edged lines of an engraving or etching.

AQUATINT: A Copper plate is protected by a porous ground, which is semi-acid resistant. The white (non-printing) areas, however, are painted with a wholly acid-resistant varnish. The plate is then repeatedly put in acid baths where it is etched to differing depths. The final effect is an image on a fine pebbled background (imparted by the porous ground). Aquatint is usually employed in combination with line etching.

LITHOGRAPH: The artist draws directly on a flat stone or specially prepared metal plate (usually with a greasy crayon). The stone is dampened with water, and then inked. The Ink clings to the greasy crayon marks but not to the dampened areas. When a piece of paper is pressed against the stone, the ink on greasy parts is transferred to it.

SERIGRAPH:  The artist prepares a tightly stretched screen, usually of silk, and blocks out areas not to be printed by filling up the mesh of the screen with a varnish-like substance. Paper is placed under the screen and ink forced through the still-open mesh onto paper.

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