Limited editions (or simply ‘editions’) have always been part of Visionaire’s DNA. Spring, our first issue, released April 1, 1991, exists in only 1000 copies. Since then, our issues have always been released numbered (if you disregard our latest Visionaries 65 FREE, that was, as the title might suggest, handed out gratis) and in limited runs.
Although, Visionaire is unique when it comes to limiting the copies of an art and fashion “publication”, the concept of art multiples is not new: Marcel Duchamp started his “readymades” in 1914. The idea consisted of appropriating manufactured goods (known as readymades in the US) and customizing them (sometimes by simply painting his name onto the objects). Nowadays, a pretty simply idea but for the time it was groundbreaking and Duchamp had a hard time convincing the industry it was real art (resulting in most of them being discarded or lost). Since then, everyone from Ai Weiwei, Tracy Emin, Robert Pruitt, Olafur Eliasson, and many more are all producing multiples and it has become a way for artists to not only make money, but also to enable an audience with limited funds to get a piece of of the cake and support charities.
While Visionaire is about creating a unique outlet for artists and giving our audience a new idea of how art and fashion are published, the concept of multiples, when it comes to actual art, is a bit more complex and raises some questions: how is exclusivity enforced? Is it still an art piece when there are several copies? How is the value decided? Does the value increase? Should multiples have a cause? We talk to Jose Frances of Plus598, an online distributor of art photography multiples who’s currently part of the show Art + Design 2016 in Miami, to make the concept a little clearer.
Visionaire: You specialize in editions. Do people buy an image as a collector of art or just as a decorative piece?
Jose Frances: We see our prints as a collector’s item that with time could increase in value. Of course most of our clients buy a piece because they love how it looks in their home, but they also care about the resume of the artist, their entire body of work, and how their work might increase in value in the future.
Visionaire: What kind of measures are taken to ensure buyers’ exclusive right?
JF: The art/ design world is very small so it is in my best interest and the artist’s to build a great reputation. Therefore we make sure that each print adheres to the number of editions. Lets say if a given piece is offered in 3 sizes and for the Large size only 10 prints are made; when its sold out we cannot sell it anymore. The client would have to get it in a smaller size or pick a different image. We also make sure that the printer (who keeps all the files) does not reproduce our images without our written authorization. We work with the best printer in Miami and have never had a problem. All prints are titled, numbered and signed.
Visionaire: Are editions as meaningful as a one off?
JF: They are of course different but in my opinion they are just as valid as a form of art. Limited editions still keep the art pieces unique and different. Editions are not just limited to photography. Other forms of art such as sculptures also could have editions. How easy it is to replicate the pieces is not as important as the intellectual value intrinsic to the pieces.
Visionaire: Part of buying art is getting something that is unique; it contains part of the artist’s soul (or so it should feel). When it comes to multiples that uniqueness is obviously removed. Is it still art?
JF: Even though it might not be unique it is still art. Fine art photography is a huge industry within the art world and nobody questions its artistic validity. One is buying a piece of the artist’s (photographer in this case) vision and creative design. As long as the editions are limited and small the soul of the piece is still present in my opinion.
Visionaire: Should art multiples be sold to make the artists money? To spread the artists’ names? To support charity?
JF: Each artist has a different agenda. There is no shame in admitting that any given artist is doing it for monetary reasons. We all have to make a living. Fame and peer recognition are also desired results for most artists. Of course most good artists leave a piece of their very souls in each master piece, that’s why most of them see their creations as their babies. With my photographers it’s the same. They always ask where their pieces are going and they wanna see the final installation. The way I sell art is very hands on and I actively interact with the client and think about the synergy of the piece with the interior in which is going to go, as well as the personality of the end user
Visionaire: Why did you choose the business of editions?
JF: Well i started from scratch so I didn’t have the budget to buy or house original pieces. I show working prints of the images and clients buy from those “sample” prints (these are not signed so they are not worth as much). Now that I have been doing this for almost two years, I am slowly getting more involved with other forms of art. That being said my true passion is photography and that’s what I understand and what I LOVE to sell.
Art + Design 2016 is open until June 5 at Budja Gallery, Miami.