The Value Of Limited Edition

In a world full of fast and cheap offerings, the availability of digital on-demand printing has inundated the print world with a smattering of visual material whose beauty goes only skin deep. If digital prints feel disposable after a short amount of time, there is a reason for that. Creating a limited edition of something goes beyond simply capping the number of replicas that are produced— a practice that, when devoid of meaning, only serves to artificially inflate its monetary value. Master printers of the past and present, whether a solo artist doing original etchings or a large operation making offset lithograph reproductions, understand the inherent value of a limited edition print run, where the monetary value reflects a real practice and decision process that was undertaken.

Especially when working in fickle mediums such as etching, artists of all eras discover early on the strict attention to detail and fine motor skill required in order to achieve the desired result. Even if a unique print is wrought with “happy accidents,” it intimately involved the hands and the expertise of an experienced person, and its edition of 1 reflects the artist’s intention. In fact, printing is such a delicate and sensitive undertaking that most often printers will “overprint” by a certain percentage, initially making more than the edition size, and then scrutinize the set in order to choose a representative selection. Afterwards, the plates are, in theory, destroyed (or at least put to rest) so that no more prints will be made at a later time, even by the artist themselves. This holds respect for the original integrity of the work, and of the chosen edition set, thereby securing its value. Even if the price fluctuates over time in an ever-changing art market, the printer’s decisions are inextricably infused, leading to an invisible wealth of depth that can be genuinely felt.

Donald Sultan, Poppies (Set of 5), 2007 Serigraph SIGNED

An exquisite set of five silkscreen prints titled Poppies by Donald Sultan is so lush it’s overwhelming— with each one at 24” x 24” they create a magnetic presence when all together, quiet and captivating.

Andre Minaux, Boat Scene, Mourlot Lithograph SIGNED
An intricate and subtle stone lithograph by Andre Minaux, Boat Scene, has a warm, calming influence on its delicious off-white fine art paper, one of an edition of only 30, and printed by the famous Atelier Mourlot in Paris.
Louise Nevelson, At Pace Columbus (Silver), 1977 Foil Print SIGNED
An exciting exhibition poster for Louise Nevelson is a foil print done on silver, At Pace Columbus (Silver). An extra delight with any exhibition poster is that it has a timestamp, being a physical historical record of the atmosphere of the year and location.
Antoni Tapies, Chicago International, 1987 Lithograph  SIGNED

 
Valerio Adami, Roland Garros (Red), 1980 Lithograph SIGNED
One can sense the energy of Chicago International by Antoni Tapies and Roland Garros (Red) by Valerio Adami, their spirit a direct translation of the artist’s inspiration.
Alberto Magnelli, Untitled I (Fond Noir), 1970 Linocut  SIGNED

 
Friedbert Renbaum, Harley Davidson, 1990 Serigraph  SIGNED
Alberto Magnelli’s linocut Untitled I (Fond Noir) is full of punctuated joy, as is a decidedly different silkscreen, Harley Davidson, by Friedbert Renbaum— in editions of 18 and 25, respectively, both communicate equal care and attention.
If it feels good to look at an “analog” print, then it must be doing something right.