The art print market is one where signatures count for a lot, and hundreds of artists have gotten on the bandwagon.An artist's name on a print can increase the price by two or more times, and creators generally view signing and numbering works as a valuable source of income for themselves.But to address one example of variability, for iconic photojournalistic images it is more desirable to have all sorts of press information stamped and pasted to the back than it is to have modern print with a big signature."I suppose that for modern prints, if [the print] has any value whatsoever—which, let's face it, is a one in a billion proposition—it is usually clear what a finished print is and what it isn't. He inscribed the print, almost invisibly, in a dark area in the lower left with a black ball-point pen, probably a cheap Bic.Lee Witkin, who matted and framed it for us (reluctantly, it seemed, since he'd always had a tough time getting prints from Gene to sell in the gallery), had taken to calling this, Gene's final signing practice, ' Signed in the image with Stylus.' "Subsequently, this print hung in my office on a wall that backed my computer desk; the searing image of suffering and love is the one I looked at every day as I sat down to write another chapter for my biography of Smith, a process that took many years.A couple years back, ICP attributed on its blog a note to Helen Gee at Limelight Gallery in the 1950s as having been written by Gene Smith when, in fact, it had been written by Minor White.When I saw it online, I suspected the language did not sound like Gene's and checked the Witkin book for other possibilities.A signature is a clear indication of both authorship and of quality (that is, a fine print rather than a work print, press print, etc.), so it's obviously necessary to have a signature in all cases in which one is to be expected.
In some cases, the entire economic value of a print is in the signature.
Hard to offer a first class vintage photograph to a serious collector without a signature or substantial attribution.
• *In a follow-up email, our collector/investor added the following: "[Where stamps are concerned] a lot depends on the facts and circumstances.
With contemporary work, it is natural for collectors to expect that works would be signed—there is, after all, very little good reason for not doing so.
Collector/investor: Marginally, but for vintage prints it would be rare.