“Some of Diebenkorn’s ‘Ocean Park’ prints can go for half a million a piece, but then there are other ‘Ocean Park’ [works] from the same suite that are around $15,000 to $20,000,” Sica explained. “You can buy a black-and-white ‘Ocean Park’ etching for $2,500.” Collectors can also feel confident these works will generally appreciate in value—assuming they are well cared-for—because they are made by artists who devoted years of their practices to the medium.
“If you think about the most famous artists—
—they were all avid printmakers,” said Gibbs. While great paintings by any of these artists typically cost a minimum of tens of millions of dollars, their prints can range anywhere between four and six digits, giving more people access to the artists they love. Last night, for instance, Christie’s sold the Picasso portrait painting Femme dans un fauteuil
(1941) for $29.5 million; last month, meanwhile, the auction house sold a print of the artist’s 1949 lithograph Tête de jeune fille
for a comparably very affordable price of £16,250 ($20,900).
What these prints make abundantly clear is that collectors need not spend their life’s fortune on a singular piece by a great artist. Collecting prints offers a low-risk opportunity to invest in and live with work that’s often impossible to get a hold of, allowing more and more people to participate in their market.