What is the Difference Between an Original and a Reprint? Why it Doesn’t Matter — Mostly

Vase with 15 Flowers by van Gogh: a quality reprint

Vase with 15 Flowers by van Gogh: a quality reprint

When it comes to fine art, most of us are not going to find ourselves at an auction bidding on pieces worth more than our homes (perhaps by many millions of dollars). For this reason, the reprint exists, and when done correctly and with the right intentions, a quality reprint ordered from a reputable source will brighten up your home or office every bit as much as the original would have.

Imagine for a moment “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” by Vincent van Gogh — a simple yet profoundly moving painting with all the trademark strokes of the master himself. The “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” was sold at auction in 1987 for $82.6 million. While the less-than-one-percent who might see this as a trifle, there are those of us who would like to have the “Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers” in our homes as well. You don’t have to be a billionaire to enjoy this timeless classic — you just have to find a place online that sells quality reprints of paintings like this one.

How to tell a great reprint from a not-so-great one

There are a couple of telltale signs of a rubbish reprint. To begin, if the price is ridiculously low (like $19.99 or some such lunacy) then you know what you’ll be getting will not be worth the lumber and canvas used to make it. Which brings us to our next point: make sure wherever you purchase your reprints allows you to zoom in on the paintings — the devil is in the details when it comes to reprints, and if the canvas is cheap or the color does not saturate well into the canvas, you’ll be able to tell right away. No close ups, no sale.

If you want a reprint of a famous piece like van Gogh’s Sunflowers, you don’t need to spend $83 million dollars, but if you want it to be an asset to your home decor, you will want to consider spending between $100-500. For example, All Modern Art is selling the famed Sunflowers painting for just under $400 — and there are some great reasons why. To begin, the art is handmade and inspected in the US by art experts. It is 60 inches by 40 inches in size with a canvas depth of 1.5 inches — a large-scale version that will be all the art a decently sized room needs for the minimalist in you. It is crafted onto 100 percent cotton canvas, which is hand-stretched across 100 percent anti-shrink pine wood bars. The inks used are anti-fading ultra chrome by Epson. And finally, this reproduction of the original Sunflowers comes with all the hanging accessories needed to get it up on your wall. You just cannot shove that level of quality into a piece that’s priced at $19.99. The good news is that if you want a smaller version of the same painting, wall and canvas art retailers like All Modern Art nearly always offer this option — this allows you to spend less, collect more, and enjoy more artwork around your home or office.

If it’s pre-framed, it’s probably a rubbish reprint

Let’s go back to the example of van Gogh’s Sunflowers. This is not a painting that really needs or wants a frame, but if you simply must have a frame for it, this is something to be done from home once you have it in your possession. When a reprint comes with a frame already on it, it’s a show of a “total package” that’s frankly too convenient to be good in almost all cases.

Rather than opting for a cheaper reprint that is already framed for you, pick one that costs a little more because it has been crafted with high quality inks on superior canvas. This will give you a lifetime with a beautiful reprint rather than a few years with a mediocre reproduction.

That rare chance to get the real thing: don’t pass it up

If you get the rare opportunity to buy an authentic original piece of artwork, don’t look at it as a waste of money — from time to time art houses, galleries, and auctioneers will get their hands on some truly remarkable finds. If you can afford it, get it — not only will it be authentic and beautiful, it will become a family heirloom and continue to be a valuable investment. As we continue to echo throughout these blogs, art is not an affect for the affluent — art is a right to expression we all deserve to have in our lives, in our homes, where we do the work and play of living.