Iain Gale on exhibitions

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Once again, this weekend the Royal Academy plays host to the London Original Print Fair. In the eleventh year of its existence, the fair continues to justify its reputation as being more than the usual dealer's bazaar that so often characterises such events. It may be a commercial enterprise, but underneath this is very much a serious and scholarly affair. Since its inception in 1985, the fair has become a key event for print collectors, as it has for the curators of the world's most important public galleries. The level of scholarship it now attracts is clearly reflected in the erudition with which exhibitors put together their displays.

Among this year's highlights will be three Cubist etchings by Braque at Editions Minotaure, Matisse's first ever print, made in 1900 at Alan Cristea and a rare Rembrandt self-portrait at German dealer Kunsthandlung Helmut Rumbler. To coincide with the Tate Gallery's current show of Turner's Liber Studorum in its entirety, selected prints from this monumental and influential work can be found on Hilary Gerrish's stand. In complete contrast, the USA's Paul McCarron has a special exhibition devoted to the little-known work of Martin Lewis - the subject of his recent catalogue raisonne - whose prints of New York in the 1920s and 1930s are an extraordinary historical document.

Whether you intend to buy, or are simply curious to learn something of the fascinating and arcane world of the print, a visit to the RA over the next few days is certainly well worth the effort.

Royal Academy, Piccadilly, London W1 (0171-439 2822). To Sunday 24 March

Left: detail from Claude Flight's `Swing Boats', 1921

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