JF found a lovey etching with aquatint called “Bogland,” signed by living Irish printmaker John McNulty, edition number 122/175, signed and dated 1980’s.
An etching, a type of intaglio print (meaning the ink is received in the depressed areas of the plate, and pressed onto paper) is prepared by cutting the artist’s design into a copper or other soft metal plate that has been covered with an acid resistant film. The drawing device, or burin, is pressed down hard to create the lines or shapes which will receive ink. Next, the plate is washed with acid so that the impressions the burin has created as a design will “attack” and eat into the metal. The plate is then inked (many times for complex palettes of many colors) and run through a press.
McNulty is a savvy artist. He seems to have a keen sense of marketing, which not all artists do. McNulty sells his work using very innovative avenues. An artist can make a name for himself in Hollywood if a set designer for a movie chooses to include the artist’s works on the walls of a movie set ‘home’ or ‘office’. I once consulted with an artist who had made thousands off his work, as his paintings appeared nightly on the walls of Robert Osborne’s on-set ‘living room”: Osborne is the classy host of Turner Classic Movies, and by implication, the art in Osborne’s “room” must be tasteful. This artist had no end of TCM viewers looking for him to buy his work.
John McNulty’s work, similarly, appeared in the movie Wall Street with Michael Douglas, and Regarding Henry with Harrison Ford. Imagine the exposure! Some artists aim to have their work in museum collections, and some artists aim to be in Hollywood or in Corporate Collections.
Of Corporate Collections, there are two kinds. One, the corporation collects art because the artists’ works they collect have been shown to increase in value over time. These corporations ‘hedge’ fine art. Such is the case of the 1987 purchase of Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers” by Japanese insurance magnate Yasuo Goto, who paid around $40 million for it, a record for its time, to put into his company vault at The Yasuda Fire and Marine Insurance Company of Japan. The painting, in a change of luck, currently may be seen at the Seiji Togo Yasuda Memorial Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.
The other kind of corporate art purchase is for decoration of its offices, and McNulty’s work graces the offices of the Sears (Willis) Tower in Chicago, Smith Barney, IBM, American Express, Bank of Scotland, Metropolitan Life and Glaxo. Artists’ work that sells to corporations means (usually) good money for the artist, because museums (with the Getty being an exception) rely on donations of works, and corporations believe in capitalism.
Another good marketing tool for artists whose medium is printmaking, and that means that artist has more than ONE of any given print, is to offer work at Art Fairs, as McNulty does. He has gone up the ladder to the best of the world’s art fairs, which are expensive to join. A booth at Art Basel in Miami, with insurance and internet thrown in, is priced upwards of $23,000. McNulty shows there, as well as good fairs in New York, Brisbane and Tokyo. By the way, the Japanese art market at this present time LOVES the print medium, and Japanese auction houses typically set the highest prices for the classic master prints from artists such as Chagall.
Finally, since we are in the holiday season, another marketing idea put forward by McNulty, his “Little Christmas” prints, each a small size and small price (under $200) offered ONLY once a year, following a certain theme. One year the theme was ‘Matrix’, which can mean, in printmaking, the printing surface, or in biology, the substance between cells. Some good ideas for my artist friends, huh?
Thus, McNulty’s engraving, sent to me by JF, is a study on how an artist can best market his work OUTSIDE of the “Art” world. McNulty has the opportunity of asking retail of his PRIMARY market (the Corporations, and those who buy directly from him at the Fairs) for the price HE puts on his pieces. Yet, once a McNulty piece is on the SECONDARY market, meaning you're not the original retail buyer, the print isn't worth much at all. JF’s print is worth $300.
Certified appraiser for estates, inheritances and trusts.
Dr. Elizabeth Stewart's column appears every week in the Salon & Style section of the Santa Barbara News Press. Email her your questions and high-resolution photos at ElizabethAppraisals @ gmail.com
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