Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation

April 1, 2013

A couple of years ago, I did a workshop entitled “I Want to Find a Painting to Go with My Red Sofa.” And I want to do it again…because the interesting thing is that this same subject surfaces on a regular basis. It is an age-old argument about art for art’s sake and the reality that context is design. Context is ART. Whether you are in accord with the context as a compatible nod or against it as a decidedly bold statement to the contrary, art and design occur in context for or against it like yin and yang. However, buying decorative reproductions versus original art is the next layer of this conversation.
Have you read this in my blogs before? Context is a subject about which I am particularly passionate. How to begin to invest in art for the sake of your interior’s design or for the sake of investment or why…that is the question. Let’s address the “why?”
Why invest in original art when there are so many outlets for reproduction work such as posters – framed or unframed, copies framed nicely in a design-trendy or classic fashion, prints on canvas or paper that “read” like paintings, and the intriguing term being tossed about “giclees.” Wikipedia says Giclee “is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne[1] for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints created on IRIS printers in a process invented in the late 1980s but has since come to mean any inkjet print. It is often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to denote high quality printing but since it is an unregulated word it has no associated warranty of quality.” The problem with the latter of these repro options is that the prices can be frighteningly high under the guise of the inflated value based upon an artist’s signature, fresh applications on the gliclee or some limited edition – and sadly most are not worth more than the surface upon which they occur.
So “why invest in true “original” art?” Perhaps it is because if you stop to think about it, you are making a connection with someone who has captured a moment, or a feeling or an impression that attracts you and different from a reproduction, you get a “feeling” that you have camaraderie with this particular artist and this particular piece. The most common experience for most is when traveling you see something that connects you to a particular experience or scene…you want to “take home” a memory of this experience – this event – this place. Having an “original” piece of art makes you feel a connection to the place. It’s yours and yours alone – it is a one-of-a-kind – often spontaneous and is an exclusive object that happened just that one time – and now, just for YOU. This intimacy, this nostalgia is very special.
Intimacy evokes emotion and emotion is so much a part of art appreciation – from the inception on the part of the artist to the viewer who responds to the piece. Positive or negative, the emotion of response is THE primary element in the expression and appreciation of art.
Wait, this is getting too personal…let’s continue with the generic, “one.” If one were to experience a moment of connectivity with a piece of art – a painting, let’s say, that so grabs the attention, speaks directly and strikes a chord – all these sensations that represent those feelings that draw one into a piece and say “buy me, have me, own me – take me home – that’s what it’s all about. And, it’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s satisfying. It’s spontaneous. It’s stimulating. It’s pleasing. It’s rewarding. And, it can be challenging too.
So, is it a crime to want to find and buy a piece of art to go with one’s red sofa? Is it against all objectivity and intrinsic value to pair the two? I think not. It is not the only way to select art, but it is a valid way. If context is such an important element in design and art…then, having a piece work well, be compatible with another contextual piece will create a harmony that works – it is perfect for some in those instances. So let’s not be such snobs. Juxtapositions can work, contrast can work and other manner of objectivity obviously works, but subjectivity is equally valid – not to necessarily value a piece in the chronicles of art history, but in the value that it means to one in one’s personal world.
So, as an investment, it comes right down to the fact that anything is worth what someone will pay for it – right? Ask Steve Martin in his book An Object of Beauty, where he so effectively paints a picture of the art world and it’s fleetingly changing whims, trends, values, and those that chase them.
Buy original art because it makes you happy – because you want to.

I Want a Painting for My Red Sofa

I Want a Painting for My Red Sofa

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8 Responses to “Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation”

  1. Federico Leon-de-la-Vega Says:

    WOW! What a well written article. I am proud to be the friend of the writer. I loved it. Congratulations Patti! Federico PS The painting above the red sofa is bad.

  2. Susan Roden Says:

    As an artist constantly struggling with this adage of “art matching the sofa”, am so pleased to read this – thank you Patti!


  3. […] Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation – A couple of years ago, I did a workshop entitled “I Want to Find a Painting to Go with My Red Sofa.” And I want to do it again…because the interesting thing is that this same subject surfaces on a regular basis. Read more by Patti Says […]

  4. Pat Forbes Says:

    Yes, I completely agree that the most important quality in selecting art is the emotional connection. Then, find its most becoming space!


  5. […] Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation – A couple of years ago, I did a workshop entitled “I Want to Find a Painting to Go with My Red Sofa.” And I want to do it again…because the interesting thing is that this same subject surfaces on a regular basis. Read more by Patti Says […]


  6. […] Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation – A couple of years ago, I did a workshop entitled “I Want to Find a Painting to Go with My Red Sofa.” And I want to do it again…because the interesting thing is that this same subject surfaces on a regular basis. Read more by Patti Says […]


  7. […] Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation – A couple of years ago, I did a workshop entitled “I Want to Find a Painting to Go with My Red Sofa.” And I want to do it again…because the interesting thing is that this same subject surfaces on a regular basis. Read more by Patti Says […]


  8. […] Context in ART – Buying Reproductions Vs Original Art – The Next Layer of This Conversation – A couple of years ago, I did a workshop entitled “I Want to Find a Painting to Go with My Red Sofa.” And I want to do it again…because the interesting thing is that this same subject surfaces on a regular basis. Read more by Patti Says […]


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