Giclée, doesn’t that sound nice?
Pronounced zhee-KLAY, it is a neologism used in 1991 and made popular by printmaker Jack Duganne while he was working at Nash Editions and wanted a name for the new type of fine art digital prints made on ink jet printers. The IRIS printer is a large-format, high-resolution industrial press proofing inject printer which had been adapted for fine-art printing. Duganne was specifically looking for a word that would not have the negative connotations of “ink jet” or “computer generated”. It is based on the French word gicleur, which means “nozzle”. Fancy!
These printers are large and get the job done!
Beside its original association with IRIS prints, in recent years, the word giclée has come to be associated with prints that use fade-resistant, archival inks (pigment-based, as well as newer solvent-based inks), and archival substrates primarily produced on Epson, HP and other large-format printers.
These printers use the CMYK color process but may have multiple cartridges for variations of each color which increases the apparent resolution and color gamut and allows smoother gradient transitions. A wide variety of materials are available, including various textures and finishes such as matte photo paper, watercolor paper, cotton canvas, or artist textured vinyl.
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 films inherently do. Another tremendous advantage of giclee printing is that digital images can be reproduced to almost any size and onto various mediums, 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.
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 Tillman’s (April 23/24 2004, Photographs, New York, Phillips de Pury & Company.) It is never to late to start creating giclees or get in on the action and make a purchase!
Check out some of these artists’ famous works!