Costs and quality of art reproduction?
September 25, 2007 9:50 PM   Subscribe

What's the next best thing to having an original Van Gogh? What's the third best thing etc? Are there reproductions that look almost identical in every respect? Or to put the question another way, what's the best I could get for under $2000 if I wanted a Starry Night (or any other priceless painting) hanging on my wall?
posted by vizsla to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
more like 200, you can even pick the size!
posted by tremspeed at 10:06 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

The next best? A trip to see them. It's ten years since I saw the Van Goghs in Paris and Amsterdam, and I can see them (and feel them) whenever I want to, just by closing my eyes. (And Starry Night is in MoMA: ask them what kind of guided appreciation you can get for $2,000.)

The third best? Spending the money to support an original artist.

(But if you want a giclee repro, the sky's the limit.)
posted by holgate at 10:40 PM on September 25, 2007

A lithograph is going to be a flat piece of paper. If you have 2k burning a hole in your pocket you can probably commission a painter who works in that style to make you a faithful recreation.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:43 PM on September 25, 2007

Best answer: The third best? Spending the money to support an original artist.

My brother bought quite a few paintings on ebay, most from Eastern Europe. Not every one is great but the prices sure are. Try searching ebay for "impressionist painting." Some aren't good, some aren't impressionistic, but there are some gems. Plus it's a lot neater than another "Starry Night" (I like the painting but I see it too often).
posted by 6550 at 11:29 PM on September 25, 2007 [2 favorites]

The ownapainting reproductions are amazing.

They're real paint, real texture and remarkably accurate reproductions. You'll be pleased with them. And go see the original in MoMa. Always a great time.
posted by disillusioned at 11:56 PM on September 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

Many people are quite satisfied with copies, and there is an active copyist market. If copies suit you, great, go for it.

But I found that living with copies, even good ones, became disturbing, after a while. My "Vermeer" wasn't bad, but it wasn't Vermeer, either. Perhaps I'd have been better satisfied with copies over the long run, had I more interest in the particulars of meaning of the image, rather than the art, as many Russian icon copyists provide. But lacking any such ulterior motives, I found that hanging copies on my walls eventually simply reminded me that they weren't the originals, and that I was willing to settle for art, once removed. I was happier when I got over that.

And the copies made great, unique gifts.
posted by paulsc at 12:24 AM on September 26, 2007

If you're set on spending about 2000 and you want copies of famous pieces, I would go the cheap route but buy a number of pieces, and buy them more as objects for decoration, education, and contemplation than as pieces of art. Even if you don't have the wall space, get a number of pieces and put them up in rotation.

I would not get knock-off paintings because knock-offs can be more misleading (and disappointing) than a cheaper reproduction. You know how the jargon boys like to talk about the "uncanny valley" as regards animation? There's something like that in paintings, where a copy can just look a little creepy and wrong, sometimes for reasons you can't express, but something to do with it being close but no cigar. Better to use photographic reproductions to purposely keep a decent distance from the original while retaining the exact composition and close-enough color (though of course none of the texture) of the original.

And if I had vacation plans for certain cities, I would try to make sure I bought copies of some some great art in my destinations. After living with a poster of a great piece for some months, you may find it particularly fine to look at the original, and when you go home the same poster will be there to remind you of what you've seen.
posted by pracowity at 2:16 AM on September 26, 2007

Best answer: I wouldn't waste any money on a reproduction. $2000 would buy you a nice small drawing by one of Van Gogh's associates such as Emile Bernard. It's real and it's a worthwhile investment, rather than 10 worthless Chinese knockoffs. FWIW Emile Bernard was an awesome creative force who greatly influenced both Van Gogh and Gauguin and his work is scandalously cheap.
posted by fire&wings at 2:38 AM on September 26, 2007 [6 favorites]

The next best thing to having a Van Gogh is having a Gauguin. If you want cheap knock offs there are plenty of Chinese factories making hand-painted reproductions. But to waste money on these is obscene and would be an embarrassment to have on a wall. A black velvet painting would be one step up in taste in my opinion.

If you have $2000 in an art fund, help a real artist instead of a company doing reproductions. Original art will generally increase in price whereas buying reproductions is like burning money in a fireplace.
posted by JJ86 at 5:42 AM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

My wife has done a number of reproductions over the years. She generally gets 2-8 K depending on the size, medium, etc., but presently she is tied-up with a huge mural for the Maine Dept of Labor. Perhaps an art student, or recent grad, could use some extra cash.
posted by lobstah at 5:54 AM on September 26, 2007

Oh god. Don't buy the fakes. They are to original art as a blow up doll is to a real lover. Spend the money on an actual piece of art. There are many beautiful, small drawings out there that you can afford. Take your time and find one that will make you happy each time you look at it.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:33 AM on September 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

i think the next best thing is a nice print, framed well. prints have a little art-object cred all their own, especially if you spring for an older one that is numbered and signed. note that there are also reproductions of limited edition prints out there, which is like authenticity 4 times removed. if it's $10, it's hot off the presses. but $2k should get you in the neighborhood. or just have a nice epson made on beautiful cotton paper.
posted by apostrophe at 6:38 AM on September 26, 2007

Best answer: Your love of Starry Night shows that you already know important things about art:
- art is about an emotion that brings you a little farther into an inner direction that you mysteriously yearn for; whatever Van Gogh did with Starry Night, we know that he expresses through it something right, despite being "imaginary".
- art is also about the place of the artist in art history: anybody can paint today a starry night with swirling stars, but Van Gogh did it right, with genius and talent, and he did it first.
- hanging art in your own living space is to have something around that is a/ an expression of a part of yourself that you like, b/ a visual element in your immediate surroundings that boosts you in a good way every single day (gives you "good vibes") and c/ that makes you belong to a community (people who dig art, art history, Vang Gogh, Starry Night) .
- art is first a personal experience and then a series of links to special stories.

In that sense, buying a copy, as good as it might be, can reassure you about the quality of the original art but in the long run, as paulsc points out, it will feel less and less "personal".

That's why several people have told you to buy original art from local artists: it accentuates at the same time the "personal experience" and the "link to special stories".

I am an old guy, so I have made a lot of mistakes, including in the art I bought. If I had to do it again, I would begin by realizing that I had first to educate my taste: what do I really like. So I would look around in small galleries and in bars and restaurants that hang the work of local artists. If I feel a connection with a work and a style, I would contact the artist and ask to visit her/him at his/her studio. Don't buy at first look. Let it linger. See if you miss it. This way, I would first buy several works in the $100-$250 range over the course of several months. Then I'd buy in the $500-$1000 range, and so on, until you acquire a sense of quality, a sense of your own connection with the works and with each artist. When buying original art, you become yourself part of the artist's history, and part of art history.

You already want to buy art. This is the first step in a wonderful journey in your inner life and in the art community. Enjoy.
posted by bru at 7:05 AM on September 26, 2007 [9 favorites]

Go to art school graduate & scholarship exhibitions. You can buy work there that will appreciate in value and is the original work of an artist. I think you'd be very surprised at the quality of art you would see at most established art institutions, even undergraduate.
posted by loiseau at 10:59 AM on September 26, 2007

Best answer: I was browsing through Metafilter, and happened to come across this posting, and I have to say I’m flattered to see what was posted about our website,

I have to say much of this advice is accurate, but I wanted to add my thoughts on the subject, as I have talked to a lot of our customers and know what can go wrong when purchasing an oil reproduction.

Many works done by companies overseas such as in China or Vietnam are often of varying quality and I have to say you get what you pay for.

I also I would make sure whoever you purchase your painting from lets you make amendments and changes to the work before it is completed and sent to you. Some companies do not let you do this, and people can ultimately receive a flawed work that they can do nothing about. We send paintings by email to our customer for comments, and then make amendments free of charge until they are happy. This has been essential for us in terms of not just producing quality works of art, but for keeping happy customers. Money back guarantees are also important in case you are not happy with the work once it’s received.

Personally I think the benefits of hand painted reproduction are most apparent with Van Gogh reproductions, as they can be painted with the thick and heavy paint that is practically dripping off the page, which Van Gogh is known for. But then again I am somewhat biased!

We have posted an online guide to purchasing reproductions that should help you in the purchasing process even if it is not from us.

Hope this helps!
Brandon Fuhrmann
posted by brandonf at 11:34 AM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: FW, where would I look to find an EB for sale?
posted by vizsla at 12:38 PM on September 26, 2007

Artnet's list of Bernard dealers, though there are certainly others.
posted by R. Mutt at 12:45 PM on September 26, 2007

I like the idea of spending the money on the work of a living artist. That being said...

Although Van Gogh painted Starry Night while incarcerated in the asylum at Saint-Rémy, I'd spend the $2000 and go to Arles where Van Gogh lived and work to experience the landscapes he lived in.
posted by Taken Outtacontext at 1:08 PM on September 26, 2007

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