Giclee (zhee-klay) – The French word “giclée” is a feminine noun that means a spray or a spurt of liquid. The word may have been derived from the French verb “gicler” meaning “to squirt”.
The term “giclee print” denotes an elevation in printmaking technology. Images are generated from high resolution digital scans and printed with archival quality inks onto various substrates including canvas, fine art, and photo-base paper. The giclee printing process provides better color accuracy than other means of reproduction.
Giclee prints are created typically using professional 8-Color to 12-Color ink-jet printers. Among the manufacturers of these printers are vanguards such as Epson, MacDermid Colorspan, & Hewlett-Packard. These modern technology printers are capable of producing incredibly detailed prints for both the fine art and photographic markets. Giclee prints are sometimes mistakenly referred to as Iris prints, which are 4-Color ink-jet prints from a printer pioneered in the late 1970s by Iris Graphics. The power of modern computers is harnessed to drive and control each combination, of colour, shade, hue, value and density of the ink via four or eight nozzles.
This can produce a combination of up to 1024 basic chromatic changes, which makes possible of over four million color combinations of highly saturated, non-toxic, water based ink. Since no half-tone screens are used in Giclee printing, the prints have a higher resolution than lithographs. The intense saturation of the Giclee printing system renders a dynamic color range is greater than serigraphy.
The apparent resolution of the digital print is 1800 dots per square inch, which is higher than a traditional lithographic print and has a wider color gamut than serigraphy. Giclee prints render deep, saturated colors and have a beautiful painterly quality that retains minute detail, subtle tints and blends.
Giclee prints are advantageous to artists who do not find it feasible to mass produce their work, but want to reproduce their art as needed, or on-demand. Once an image is digitally archived, additional reproductions can be made with minimal effort and reasonable cost. The prohibitive up-front cost of mass production for an edition is eliminated. Archived files will not deteriorate in quality as negatives and film inherently does. Another tremendous advantage of giclee printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various media, giving the artist the ability to customize prints for a specific client.
The quality of the giclee print rivals traditional silver-halide and gelatin printing processes and is commonly found in museums, art galleries, and photographic galleries.
Ten years ago Giclees had a hard time being accepted by the general art buying public as “legitimate” art. Today, Giclee Prints have gained wide acceptance and “legitimacy”, and are now shown in museums and galleries throughout the world.
Numerous examples of giclee prints can be found in New York City at the Metropolitan Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Chelsea Galleries. Recent auctions of giclee prints have fetched $10,800 for Annie Leibovitz, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for Wolfgang Tillmans (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.)
The Giclée printing process is environmentally safe since the inks are water-based and the paper is archival and acid-free. Thus, a Giclée must be treated as fine art and placed away from direct sunlight, even though we use extra long-life Archival UV-Safe Pigmented Inks.
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