What is a Giclée?

A more technical discussion


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  1. How do you pronounce "Giclée"?

  2. What does giclée mean and what are giclées?

  3. How are Giclées made?

  4. What kind of paper is used for the Max D. Standley giclées?

  5. What about the color quality?

  6. What museums and galleries show giclées?

  7. How do Giclées compare to Lithographs?

  8. How do you preserve a giclée?

  9. How large are the editions?


  1. You say "zhee-clay".

  2. It's a French word meaning "to spray ink" or "to spray on" and is sometimes referred to as the "Iris" (after the original machine that produced the print).

    Developed in 1989 as a digital method of fine art printing, it is the The Trail Of Tears, fine art gicléelatest exciting new ground-breaking technological advancement in the world of Fine Art Printing with a resolution higher than the traditional lithography print and a color range wider than a serigraph.

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  3. As in many other methods of printmaking (the lithograph, the serigraph, the off-set print) the artwork is scanned or a large photographic transparency is taken and then scanned and digitized.

    The artist and technician oversee and adjust the color balance using state of the art computer image enhancement until the most faithful representation of the original painting is achieved.

    Then it is sent electronically to the Iris machine and produced one at a time. Unlike desktop ink-jet printers, the Iris uses a sophisticated print head that disperses each ink drop in a micro fine mist of minute droplets to create a smooth, continuous tone print.

    The Fine Art paper or canvas (a variety of substrates can be used, including archival watercolor papers, glossy paper, and cotton canvas) is attached to a drum that will spin at 220 RPM. Tiny ink jets smaller than a human hair spray the inks at the rate of 4 million 1.5 micron droplets (tinier than a red blood cell) per second onto the spinning paper, one line at a time, until the image is done on the paper.

    With an apparent resolution of 1800 dots per inch, the detail and pure color vibrancy exceeds traditional printmaking technologies.

    For an average sized print it can take 30 to 60 minutes.

    It is considered a one-of-a-kind work of art, since each print is created individually as opposed to being mass produced on huge presses.

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  4. The prints are printed on acid free 100% cotton all rag paper using archival inks that are long lasting, producing musuem quality prints. The paper will not yellow like the wood based paper does and is heavier than lithograph paper.

  5. Giclées have a wider color range and deeper colors than offset lithograph prints which makes them more accurate compared to the original artwork.

    The process produces a print that has jewel-like color and crisp quality and texture with the look and feel of an original painting on paper. The image is "fixed" with a UV protective coating similar to what is used on water color paintings and becomes as archival and long lasting as any other work of art on paper.

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  6. Major Museums and galleries include:
    • The Los Angeles County Museum
    • Laguna Museum of Art
    • Metropolitan Museum, New York
    • Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
    • Philadelphia Museum of Art
    • San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
    • The British Museum
    • The Corcoran Gallery (Washington D.C.)
    • Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art
    • National Museum of Art
    • The New York Public Library
    • The Washington Post Collection

  7. The same process used to print magazines and posters are used to make Lithographs. The inks have dyes in them that are more likely to fade, and the paper is a rag paper that tends to absorb the ink. This causes the printed dot to expand into the adjoining dots (called "dot gain"), making the colors muddy. To correct for this problem, printers may use pulp made papers that have a coating. The coating minimizes the dot gain, but the acid in the paper tends to yellow and attack the ink over time.

    The Giclée paper, on the other hand, is far more substantial than lithograph prints. The inks used are very stable, giving fade and color shift resistance of over 75 years under average indoor light conditions, making them the reproduction of choice for galleries, artists, photographers, and museums.

    Giclées offer the collector the same physical properties of an original painting and the advantages of a Fine Art Print. You have a fine work of art at a fraction of the price of an original.

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  8. Giclées are as permanent and lasting as any other work of art on paper. Flat dry storage will make the giclées last permanently.

    Framed and kept in direct sunlight will make them fade some, as with any work of art on paper. When they are framed, using archival materials will protect your giclées. Matting (to keep the glass from touching it), glass (which is UV reflective), and low lighting is recommended to protect the inks. The glass will slow the aging if you intend to spotlight your artwork.

    Most galleries no longer spotlight the paintings and the more valuable a painting or print the lower the amount of light allowed to reach it.

    If you use anything containing acids, such as cardboard, you risk deterioration and fading.

    Conservation framing advice from a competent framer is suggested.

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  9. Usually editions are smaller in number than lithography, serigraphy, or off-set printing. Max's giclées are generally editions of 250 for the smaller prints, becoming progressively fewer for the larger ones.

Want to purchase Max Standley's artwork for your home or office?
Please contact R. Michelson Galleries to see and purchase available paintings and/or engravings (or Fine Impressions for engravings.

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