In 1997 The Independent newspaper in the UK featured a double page spread of an art print by pop artist David Hockney; “Two Apples & One Lemon & Four Flowers”. Rather than being a reproduction of an original artwork, the newspaper, and Hockney himself, argued that the print was the art; “Even though it’s printed in a mechanical way on a page in a newspaper, it’s constructed only to exist in that way.”
Hockney had prepared the printing plates, so the only time these four plates combined to form the finished artwork was when it was printed in the London newspaper. Good quality examples of the pages have been exhibited and can sell for up to £1000, yet they are simply mass produced newspaper pages.
This wasn’t a new perspective, and it’s one we share at the Lenticular Art Gallery here on the edge of London in Kent. The words “art print” today tend to refer to reproductions, but early prints were the art; etching, lithography and woodcuts are all created to be experienced as prints, and of course the same is true of photography. Many famous photographs can be bought as cheap reproduction posters, but a true photographic print from the original negative, supervised by the photographer, is something else entirely. And of course, there’s a good argument that the same can be said of lenticular prints and digital artworks; as the NFT world have been exploring.
Pop art prints, Warhol and redefining original artworks
Few artists found as much fascination with this idea as Andy Warhol. Pop art by definition played with popularised imagery, mass production, consumerism, and even the aesthetics of printing techniques in artworks like Roy Lichtenstein’s, but Warhol really placed it the centre of his original and limited edition artworks.
His famous studio, The Factory, was very deliberately named; this was a place that mass produced art on a production line involving numerous people, often creating repetitive art prints of extremely familiar imagery which in every way raised the question, “but are these prints really works of art, or are they just mass produced prints?”
Just like Hockney’s newspaper art, photography, or lenticular print artworks, Warhol’s process was built towards realising the finished print; to look at the plates, stencils, or negatives brings none of the experience of the artist’s vision. So surely, if an original artwork is designed to only be experienced as a print, then the print is the art that should be hung in the art gallery, so long as it has been overseen and approved by the artist?
Street art, digital NFT art and lenticular print
Similar questions are being increasingly raised today; street artist Banksy works mostly with stencils and the finished piece is seen very clearly as the artwork. Meanwhile digital art and the contemporary technology of blockchain NFTs has created a similar debate about easily duplicated digital works; when is a .jpg file an original artwork? The NFT answer to that question has been warmly embraced by some and very strongly rejected by others.
And that brings us to lenticular art, which often finds influence and crossover with pop art, street, and digital art. Each lenticular print is created from multiple images, designed by the artist to be seen as a single lenticular image with that unique illusion of depth and motion, and the unique interaction with a viewer’s perspective and physical location relative to the print.
We’ve built our online art gallery and The Lenticular Gallery printworks, based on the edge of London, around a belief in how much lenticular print has to offer artists, photographers, and filmmakers as a new medium of expression, and have built our printmaking expertise around producing original artworks to the exceptional standards any artist would expect to realise something more than “just a print”.