Art poster buying
December 11, 2015 11:48 AM   Subscribe

I want to buy a print online of a Klimt painting in the public domain (specifically, this one). Lots of places sell prints of this (and everything else under the sun), but it's impossible to tell whether there will be differences in the quality of the print from the jpeg. Are there any shops that make better prints than others, or things I should look for when choosing a print, or does it not matter?
posted by Tsuga to Shopping (5 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
We splurged for giclee prints from the museum for a couple of prints recently. They were gorgeously printed and very high quality. If possible, I would definitely get giclee prints from the museum that owns the piece, or somewhere that the museum sold the rights to print.

We also got the pieces in their original size, had them stretched and framed. It was really stretching and framing them that made them look very nice. (And cost a lot of money.)
posted by ethidda at 12:50 PM on December 11, 2015

Klimt’s Birch Forest happens to be part of a touring exhibition currently at its originating museum, the Portland Museum of Art: Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

Contact information is on the linked page, and if anyone is selling a high quality print right now, I would expect that museum to be among the vendors.
posted by jamjam at 1:12 PM on December 11, 2015 [1 favorite]

As has already been stated, but to emphasize: make sure to get a giclee print. It'll be expensive but is much better quality than anything else you'll find.
posted by basehead at 1:34 PM on December 11, 2015

the best thing to do is use a reputable source, as jamjam suggests.

giclee is a fancy name for inkjet. that can have several advantages (compared to lithograph / offset printing - in particular, you can get better colour matching because they use a wider variety of inks). but it's used also because you can do one-off prints, so people don't have to keep large stocks of each image. so it's common and doesn't guarantee much (someone can make a crappy giclee print quite easily).

you can also go by paper quality, in the hope that someone selling prints on nicer paper has taken more care. but again, there's no real causal connection, and you can have a bad print on expensive paper (although you do want a bright white paper so that there is a good base for the colours, so i suppose a good print on muddy paper isn't possible).

if you can see before you buy, you're still making a largely subjective decision, but at least it's your decision. so basically buy what you like (typically, that it's not "flat"). you can check a few things, like making sure that the detail is there, and look at areas of a single colour to make sure there's no mottling or weird structure (look at an angle with reflected light).

ps with someone selling klimt images in general (although not this one), they need to worry about gold foil. so i guess you could also see what they do for that. i have no idea how people "print" gold foil, but whatever solution they use might give a handle on how good they are.
posted by andrewcooke at 1:34 PM on December 11, 2015 [3 favorites]

The Portland Art Museum is one of the participating museums on, which produces high-quality reproductions straight from the source, using archival quality pigments and paper. And wadayaknow, right there is Birch Forest ($19.00 - $449.00 USD depending on what size you want).
posted by Kabanos at 2:12 PM on December 11, 2015 [6 favorites]

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