The Portland Fine Print Fair
January 29 - 31
Showcase of fine prints for purchase at the Portland Art Museum
Start your collection today!
The Portland Fine Print Fair (January 29–31) is the premier event in the Northwest for print lovers and collectors. Now in its third year, the Fair brings 18 top print dealers and publishers to Portland for one weekend to sell fine prints dating from 1500 to the present. With prices ranging from $100 to $50,000, there is something for everybody. Now is a great time to look, learn, and start (or build) your own collection.
We asked Mary Weaver Chapin, Ph.D., Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museum, for some advice:
Let’s start with the basics: what is an original print?
In a nutshell, an original print is a work of art on paper that has been conceived by the artist to be realized as a print, rather than as a reproduction of a work in another medium. All the works for sale at the Portland Fine Print Fair (PFPF) are original prints, not reproductions, posters, or postcards.
What is the first step to collecting prints?
Every print collection begins with looking. Start by browsing at local galleries and museums—fill your mental image bank with as many prints as you can. The Fair will have thousands of prints for your perusal and is an ideal opportunity to increase your exposure to this art form.
The next step is to ask questions. All of the dealers at the Portland Fine Print Fair are friendly, experienced professionals who love to talk about prints! Ask them about the artist, technique, or anything else that comes to mind.
Do I need technical knowledge to purchase prints?
Terminology can be intimidating for a lot of people, but rest assured, you don’t need to know all the various techniques, or how every line or shape was made. For beginning collectors, it is wise to focus on the image—find something you love and want to live with.
What kind of art will be featured?
Art at the Fair spans 500 years of graphic art—PFPF is a great mash-up of historical and contemporary prints from Asia, America, Europe, and Central and Eastern Europe. You can expect to see Old Master prints by Albrecht Dürer and Rembrandt, stunning ukiyo-e woodblocks by artists like Hiroshige, American masters from Whistler to Roy Lichtenstein, and many Northwest artists as well. Each of the 18 dealers has a particular specialty—go to portlandartmuseum.org/printfair2016 for a complete list of exhibitors.
Are their educational events at the Fair?
Yes, we have several talks and tours planned, and all are free! On Saturday morning, I will give a short lecture on print collecting, followed by a tour of the Fair. It is a great way to dive into PFPF, especially for those new to collecting. At 1:30 and 3:30 p.m. Maribeth Graybill, Ph.D., our curator of Asian Art, will give a tour of the Fair focusing on Japanese prints. On Sunday, I’ll lead another tour at 1:30 p.m. showcasing the variety and quality of the prints on view.
Who comes to the Fair?
You will see everyone from families and first-time buyers to seasoned collectors, connoisseurs, and curators. Artists and students, too, are always present at the fair, soaking up the opportunity to immerse themselves in the graphic arts and make a special purchase. All are welcome.
How much do the prints cost?
Prints, like other works of art, range greatly in price. At the Print Fair, you will find art from about $100 to over $50,000. The prices are all clearly marked; some dealers put the prices on the mat or on a list, but don’t hesitate to ask if you can’t find the price.
A gathering like this deserves a party. Anything planned?
On Friday, January 29, we offer a sneak peek at the Print Fair to buy and browse before it opens to the public. It begins at 6 p.m., and there is always a line of people eager for the doors to open. The benefit preview is a fundraiser for the Department of Prints and Drawings, and tickets can be purchased here.