Published 24th June 2015
The simplicity, block colour and clear lines of many forms of printing means that prints suit very well the style and fashion of the contemporary interior. Indeed the reputation, prestige and value of many prints has been a growth area in the art market.
For example, the etchings of Christopher R Wynne Nevinson (1889-1946) whose pre-1920s works were influenced by Cubism, Futurism and his own experience of the Western Front, were valued in £100s in 1987 in Ian Mackenzie's British Prints, Dictionary and Price Guide and in today's market specific etchings can comfortably make £50,000 at auction.
And Cyril Power, who died in the 1950s, is another example of a meteoric rise in value and reputation. Power was a linocut artist, typically interpreting movement and modern transport in a Futurist style (think London Underground), and he identified the medium of block printing as a most suitable method. His modest works, which again in the late 1980s were valued in £100s, are now fetching up to £60,000 at auction.
There is a bold screen print with additional collage made in 2003 by Sir Terry Frost, which is titled Spirals, and I think this emphasises the particular qualities and characteristics of printing which, in spite of static blocks of bold colour, through careful composition and the alignment of shape, do create a strong sense of movement and energy.
There are two colourful lithographs after original designs by the Catalan painter and sculptor Joan Miro. These come from a well-known book published in the 1970s and the set of lithographs is titled Maravillas con Variaciones Acrosticas en el Jardin de Miro.
A similar late 20th Century strong and colourful print with a real sense of movement is by a lesser known Hungarian artist called Georges Csato (1910-1983). And in a different print medium, there are three etchings by Dame Elizabeth Frink (1930-1993) which are inspired by Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. These include The Reeve's Tale, Chanticleer and The Fox and Chanticleer and The Pertelote.
To round-off this group is a coloured woodcut print. Woodcut is another form of block printing, with centuries old origins in China, which translates beautifully into the modern age. The woodcut is by the Anglo/Australian artist John Hall Thorpe who was born in Victoria in 1874 and came to London where he studied. In 1918, Heal's (the furnishing design workshop and store) gave Thorpe a solo exhibition of coloured woodcuts and within a decade his prints were popular worldwide and noted as a definitive statement of inter-war design and society.
The estimate for the various prints referred to above, which will be sold on 14th July 2015, are from £100-£1,000.