Posted on:April 9, 2017
Press Release: When Fine Art Goes Multiple, Everybody Wins
By Joseph A. W. Quintela
Joseph A. W. Quintela and Stephen Lipuma have curated The Art of the Multiple, a group exhibition at BROOKLYNWORKS at 159 (159 20th Street, South Slope) from April 28th to August 28th. The opening reception will be from 6-9pm on Friday, April 28th, and thereafter showings will be by appointment. BROOKLYNWORKS at 159 is a co-working space. Featuring Art by, Mo Baretta, Joseph Barral , Jazzmine Beaulieu. Marcy Brafman, Denver Butson, Moray Hillary, Stephen Lipuma, Rammer Sanchez, Eryk Wenziak, and #Bookdress. The Art of the Multiple is presented by Smith&Jones Art:
The contemporary artist lives in exciting times! No longer the providence of misfits, mainstream interest in art has never been greater than it is today. Social media and the explosion of art apps have decoupled the artist from slavish reliance on the gallery system and democratized the playing field for both sales and public recognition. With the door wide open on what's considered art (instagram, ephemera, staring contests: all art!), there's never been more opportunity to create than now. So why is being an artist still so hard?
The cynic might call art a victim of its own success. Indeed, with so many players on the field, it sometimes feels as though the competition for attention is both exhausting and exhausted. The fact is, no matter how much art is out there, people want more not less. Far greater than the problem of saturation is the antiquated gallery model of sales and valuation. Even as artists learn to sell directly or leverage online marketplaces with better percentages, they are still tempted to use the aggressive pricing that underpins the gallery system. And why not? Certainly, making Fine Art takes a large investment of money, space, and time. Particularly in New York, those last two take more of the first: money, money, money. So while an armchair art aficionado may balk at prices in the thousands or even tens of thousands, to a hard-working artist, these seemingly exorbitant prices don't result in much profit even when a well-heeled collector in the buying mood is finally found. So what's an artist to do?
The easiest thing is to make cheaper, smaller, faster art. It's not a bad idea. Indeed, it's the artists who take these three words as their mantra who are most apt to find independent success. The danger of this approach is that, inevitably, it takes the word "Fine" out of "Fine Art. And that, itself, is not a problem. Not all art needs to be Fine Art. In fact, some of the best art being made today, isn't Fine Art...and doesn't want to be. That's liberating. But for artists who still want to use archival materials, work big, and take time it can seem like even with a liberated system the end result is oddly familiar: broke and at the mercy of galleries that don't want to take much in the way of risks anymore. So back to that question: what's an artist to do?
One answer worth examining: the Multiple. What's a Multiple? A Multiple is a series of identical art objects commissioned to the specifications of a single artist and usually manufactured in a limited edition. Multiples have been around for a while, popping up in the oeuvre of household names like Joseph Beuys and Andy Warhol. Still, they're usually treated with all the regard afforded to a literary sub-genre like teen horror. Nice but niche. But what if Multiples could drive an entirely different approach to financing Fine Art? How, you ask? By doing exactly what artists are supposed to be good at in the first place: seeing things differently.
After all, who says the Multiple has to be a separate niche? Why can't the Multiple be part and parcel of a Fine Art practice? Who says the only thing an artist should have to sell after hours in the studio and an incredible investment in lasting materials is a single exquisite object? What if the artist could create that exquisite object and then create an exquisite image of the object, too? And who better than the artist to really look at their art and see it differently. Suddenly a finished piece of art can have two lives: one as an object, the other as an image. If it takes time for the object to find a collector who can afford to give it the lasting home it deserves, the artist doesn't have to languish in the red. The image can be reproduced and sold in less expensive iterations that provide a much sought after commodity: art the rest of us can actually afford. And that's what's in it for the buyer. Art on the walls whilst supporting living artists who make Fine Art.
The Art of the Multiple is the official launch of Smith&Jones Living: a new section of Smith&Jones Art devoted to the Multiple form. For the inaugural show we've selected 8 fine artists (and 3 poets!) with whom we've already worked and asked them to supply a single image of their work. Printed to-order will be 50 reproductions of the image on 8x10 metal print, 16x20 metal print, 24x30 metal print or 16x16 throw pillow. Want the image printed on something else? Just ask. As long as the artist approves, we'll arrange to print on anything that can be printed on.
This is only the beginning. Most of the artists included have given us a gorgeous image of a single work in their Fine Art portfolio, lovingly photographed. But a few are already seeing their art anew, using it as a subject for creating an image that is radically different from the object it represents. We want to keep these artists working in this way, and simultaneously creating lasting, large, time consuming Fine Art. That, potential buyer, is where you come in. Fine art and affordable art don't have to be mutually exclusive. The Art of the Multiple brings them together, and we're doing it for you.