'THE print is doing for painting what the paperback did for literature," says Edgar Breitenbach, chief of prints and photographs at the Library of Congress. "People can now afford to have originals.'' Two major shows this week support that view of the print's popularity. In Curator Breitenbach's galleries hang 88 prints collected from 21 states and Hawaii for the library's 16th National Exhibition of Prints, all finished in the past year; at the Brooklyn Museum, 136 prints culled out of 1,200 submitted from 36 states are on view (see opposite).

Once considered the poor cousins of painting, prints now stand on...

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