Color Forms (G)

Leon Polk Smith

Frequently Asked Questions

The IFPDA is dedicated to increasing the awareness and appreciation of fine prints among art collectors and the general public. This section addresses questions we frequently encounter about collecting or researching prints.

How to Buy Prints

I am new to collecting, how do I begin?

Most people start by looking at prints in galleries, museums, print workshops, and art fairs. There are numerous institutions in the United States and abroad with specialized collections of fine prints in a range of periods and specialties. Very quickly, you will begin to discover artists, periods and styles that appeal to you. Since IFPDA Members represent the highest caliber of works from all historical periods, regular perusal of this website can introduce you to artists whose works resonate with you in some unique way. Contact Members directly about works or artists in which you have an interest. Some Members publish periodic catalogues with extensive references detailing their inventory and many also feature more extensive information on their own independent websites. It is important to emphasize that there is no substitute for seeing a work in person since that is ultimately the way in which you will enjoy it. Check What’s On for a schedule of current shows and art fairs where IFPDA Members are exhibiting, as well as museums and galleries near you that may be featuring exhibitions and educational programs which focus on fine prints. In addition, many museums offer memberships focused on prints or works on paper which offer opportunities to learn directly from the museum’s print curator and other specialists in the field.

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What is the best way to buy art?

Most collectors work with a core group of dealers whom they’ve come to know over the years they’ve been collecting. While an experienced collector may eventually buy at auction now and then, more than half the sales in the art market take place through galleries and dealers. IFPDA Members are dealers who have been strictly vetted prior to joining the association and are committed to ethics, quality, and connoisseurship, all qualities that any knowledgeable collector seeks in the dealers with whom they work.

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How do I find a dealer or gallery?

Members of the IFPDA are acknowledged specialists in their area of expertise who organize exhibitions, write catalogues, research and locate rare works, and are committed to dealing with their clients in a direct and forthright manner. This website can introduce you to dealers who feature artists or artistic movements which align with your collecting interests. Visiting an art fair where IFPDA Dealers exhibit is an excellent opportunity to view works directly and talk to specialists from all over the world. One of the largest and most prestigious Fairs for prints is the annual IFPDA Print Fair, held in November in New York City. This international Fair offers a wide range of prints and access to expertise from old master to contemporary at a variety of price points.

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How much should I spend?

There are several factors that can determine the price of a print­ – quality, rarity, condition, and the state of the market. Many art collectors started their collecting with prints because their multiplicity made them more affordable. A dealer will be able to explain to you why some prints by an artist are more expensive than others and, in doing so, will help you understand the relationship between a particular work’s attributes and its pricing. Prices can range from as low as $500 to several hundred dollars, while others range in the thousands, hundred thousands, and even millions. Determine what you are comfortable spending and look to knowledgeable dealers for guidance on the possibilities which match your taste and budget. The IFPDA Print Fair’s comprehensive range of exhibiting Dealers offers visitors an excellent opportunity to gain an informed perspective on prices. Always try to purchase the best impression you can afford and trust your instincts to buy what you really like.

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How to Research Prints

How do I determine if the print I have is "fine" or "original"?

The IFPDA defines an original print as a work of art on paper which has been conceived by the artist to be realized as a print, rather than as a reproduction of a work in another medium. In evaluating prints, connoisseurship matters—note physical characteristics such as watermarks, print quality, paper quality, ink surface, estate stamps, printers’ chops, signatures, and edition numbers. Our Member Dealers are the leading experts in their fields of expertise and will be able to provide you with a full description of your print including information on the artist, title, date, image and sheet size, catalogue references, condition, state, paper type and quality, watermarks, and provenance. All of these items can factor into the value of the work at hand.

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How can I find out more about the artist who made the print I own?

This website contains a database of biographies and images for the artists whose works are represented by IFPDA members. If the artist you are researching is not listed on this site, broaden the scope of your search or try other sources. Many collectors find it useful to research the historic period in which the artist lived or the artistic movement with which they may be affiliated. An artist’s catalogue raisonné is also a source of valuable assistance. The Links section also provides more alternatives for research.

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How did the artist make this print?

The IFPDA’s glossary can help you learn more about the terms associated with prints and printmaking as well as the identifying characteristics for each technique. An artist’s choice of a technique or combination of techniques depends on how they feel it best serves their manner of expression. The Search engine on this website will also help you see more examples of works made using different techniques and how their effects vary in the hands of different artists. Our extensive bibliography includes useful guides to printmaking. Remember, that one can, and many do, collect and appreciate prints with only a basic understanding of how they were made.

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How do I see more prints by a particular artist?

Start by exploring the ARTISTS section or use the "SEARCH" box at the top of the page to query by artist’s name. Query results show the IFPDA Dealers who feature the artist's prints and can include: the artist’s biography as well as artists who may have a connection to them, gallery and museum exhibitions, and images posted by IFPDA Dealers. By selecting “images only” in the Advanced Search menu, you may further refine your Search results. Once you’ve found an IFPDA Member who specializes in the artist’s work, you may visit their gallery or contact them directly to arrange to see more works in person. The Links section also lists museums that offer online access to all or a portion of their collections where you may continue your research. Contact your local museum to see if they have prints in their collection from the artist. Even if they are not currently exhibiting the prints, many museums have a print study room where specific works may be viewed by appointment.

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What is a Catalogue Raisonné?

A catalogue raisonné is a published reference that covers every known work of an individual artist up to the year of the book's publication. Catalogues raisonné typically apply to artists who are advanced in their careers or deceased and are written by the leading expert of that artist’s oeuvre. In addition to images of all of the artist’s works to date, these studies usually also include biographical information, provenance, examples of the artist's signature and/or marks, condition reports for individual artworks, bibliographies of literature related to individual works of art, and discussions of questionable or “attributed” (but not authenticated) works of art. The Print Council of America's Index to Print Catalogues Raisonné (IPCR) will help you find out if an oeuvre-catalogue of an artist’s prints exists. An oeuvre-catalogue is defined here as any listing of the artist’s total output, or some clearly defined section of that output: for example, all the prints in one technique, or all the prints made up to a certain date. Catalogues of the output of print publishers and print publishing houses have been included as well.

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How to Value Prints

I want to sell prints from my collection, who should I contact to do this?

Experienced Dealers have cultivated a client-base with a particular specialization and thus are best suited to work with a collector who wishes to sell a work. The artist database on this site can help you identify IFPDA Member Dealers who may have an active client-base for the artist whose work you wish to sell.

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How much is this print worth?

There are many factors that can affect the worth of a print such as, but not limited to, condition, rarity, and demand. To get a basic idea of the market for an artist’s work or sale prices of comparable works, one can research auction results, which are publicly available, usually for a fee. You can find a list of online auction databases in the Links section. Accurate interpretation of auction results requires knowledge of the condition and quality of works sold and of the market at the time of the sale as well as an awareness of how comparable the work you have is to those items. To obtain a more informed and precise value of the work you own, it is best to contact an expert dealer or appraiser. IFPDA Dealers have extensive knowledge of the market and can assess condition in relationship to other states, proofs, or prints in the edition, certify that the print is authentic, and quote you a fair and informed value. Since condition plays an important role in any estimation of value, a dealer or appraiser will frequently want to physically examine a work in order to make a more precise valuation.

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How do I go about getting an appraisal?

The IFPDA does not offer appraisals, but many of our Member Dealers, whose expertise ranges from old master to contemporary, can help. You can query our site not only by artist but also by the historic period or style to find a broader range of Dealers whom you may contact directly to ascertain an approximate value of your print. The Appraisers Association of America (AAA) recommends consulting a certified public appraiser for appraisals relating to gift-giving and for tax purposes.

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How to Care for Prints

How do I know if the work I have has been restored?

When a print has been restored or repaired by a conservator, he/she will often compose a report making note of all damages, as well as the materials and techniques used in the repairs. All of this information will typically be included in the print description provided to you when you purchased your print. You should feel comfortable asking your Dealer any questions about this description, the repairs that were made, and how it can affect the value.

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I just bought a print, what should I look for in a qualified framer?

Your Dealer can recommend a qualified framer, preferably someone from whom they commission frames regularly. Poor framing can destroy a print, so it is important to listen for certain terms when discussing a job with your framer—archival, acid-free, frame spacing, and UV protected glass, to name a few. Works on paper are usually “matted” or “floated” in a frame. The latter leaves the borders and deckled edge of the paper exposed for you to enjoy. If you decide to float your print on acid-free board, it is important your framer install “frame-spacing” around the edge of the frame; it is invisible to the presentation, but lifts the glass off of the surface of the print. One of the most important things to remember is the glass should never touch the surface of the print as this can encourage moisture to become trapped inside the frame and causing damaging mold and water stains. Lastly, since large sheets of glass can be delicate, for larger works it is recommended to frame with a UV protected plexi-glass. The framing process is the same, but you reduce the risk of broken glass damaging the surface of your print.

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What is the best way to store a print?

Certain special conditions are preferred to ensure the life-span and integrity of your print. Humidity and temperature should be controlled, and dampness and heat should be avoided in the area where the print is stored. Be sure to keep your print out of direct sunlight as this can also cause damage to the ink and paper. Keep your print protected from dust, dirt and insects by housing your print in an alkaline container, and if your print is unframed, be sure to store it flat to keep the edges from curling and/or tearing. For more information on how to care for your work on paper, see

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Can a damaged work be repaired?

Paper has a memory and in most cases a damaged work can be repaired. We recommend consulting a professional conservator as he/she will have expert knowledge of the appropriate materials to use, and will be able to document the repairs as repairs and patches will affect the value of the work. You can contact the Paper Conservation department at any major museum or university in your area to find someone to help or contact the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) at Stanford University to find a registered conservator near you.

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Print Fair

Who is exhibiting at the IFPDA Print Fair?

Exhibitors at the Fair are selected from the IFPDA's member dealers and galleries. This year's fair will feature over 80 members, showcasing the Association's wide range of interests and specialties in printmaking from the sixteenth century to present day.

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Are prints at the Fair for sale?

Yes, works exhibited by dealers at the Fair are available for purchase. Prices are either displayed on the work's label or on a price list available from the dealer. Exhibiting dealers are all members of the IFPDA and buyers are therefore assured of each dealer's expertise and professionalism, and of the authenticity and condition of artwork available for purchase.

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What is the IFPDA?

The International Fine Print Dealers Association is a nonprofit organization of art dealers, galleries, and publishers in the field of fine prints committed to the highest standards of quality, ethics, and connoisseurship, and to promoting a greater appreciation of fine prints among collectors and the public. For more information about the IFPDA, or to receive a directory of members, please visit

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What are the exhibitors offering?

Exhibitors will present nearly six centuries of printmaking from early woodcuts and traditional engravings, etchings and lithographs to innovative contemporary projects. The wide historical spectrum of artists' works on view includes Old Masters; Japanese prints; 19th and early 20th century American masters; European Impressionists and Modernists, as well as German Expressionists. Editions publishers exhibiting at the Fair will premiere new editions by contemporary artists, both prominent and emerging.

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Who attends the Print Fair?

7,000 visitors attended last year's show. The Fair's reputation for rare and exceptional works draws the elite collectors and curators in the field, while young collectors are attracted to the high quality and wide range of its affordable works. Given its stature as one of the most important events for the medium, it also draws artists, scholars, educators, museum patrons, and art enthusiasts. Tickets to the event cost $20 per day or $40 for all four days, and are available for purchase either at the door or in advance. Admission includes an IFPDA Membership Directory.

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May I join the IFPDA and exhibit at this year's Fair?

No. Election to membership requires a high level of expertise, ethics, and professional integrity. The number of years a dealer or gallery has been in business is taken into account along with the quality of art offered for sale, the caliber of their exhibitions and published catalogues, and the international stature of artists they may publish or represent. Membership in the IFPDA does not guarantee acceptance to the Print Fair. Currently there is a two-year waiting period for admittance to the Fair for new members.

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How do artists exhibit their work at the Fair?

Artists do not exhibit independently at the Fair. Exhibitors are galleries, art dealers, and publishers of editions. They make their own independent choices about the artists' works they will bring and exhibit at the Fair.

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What is a fine print?

A "fine" or "original" print is a work of art which the artist creates as a unique work. It is not a photo-mechanical copy of a painting or a work in another medium. An artist makes a print by drawing, etching or carving a composition on a hard surface such as a woodblock, metal plate, or stone. This surface is then inked and the image is transferred to paper or another material by applying pressure, resulting in an impression or print. Prints usually exist in multiple impressions, called editions, each of which is pulled by hand from the inked surface. There is a wide range of techniques for printmaking, each which yields its own distinctive appearance. To learn more about prints, see What is a Print?

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How do I get a Press Pass?

To obtain a Press Pass, please contact the IFDPA office at (212) 674-6095. You must provide your affiliation (i.e. the publication you write for), with address and phone number. Please note that the Press Pass does not include entry to Wednesday night's Preview. Early access to the Fair is possible for members of the press only by prior arrangement with the IFPDA office. Please be aware that to schedule an advanced viewing you must have a verifiable press deadline.

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Is the venue equipped for assisted access?

Ramp access is available on Lexington Avenue at the large loading door located between 66th and 67th Streets. On the north side of this entrance there is also an intercom that rings directly to the Conservancy security staff who will be available at all times to assist visitors with entry to the venue. You may also make arrangements before your arrival to the Fair by calling the Armory's main security desk at (212) 616-3950, extension 1.

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