Printmakers, photographers and some sculptors have always made multiple copies of their work. With certain arcane exceptions, any one version is usually considered to be as good as any of the others, although there can be some contention, the creation of editions after an artist's death for example. Take the production of new Len Lye works by the Len Lye Foundation. Anyone who saw Len Lye fussing round for days on end with the large Fountain has to have some reservations about whether the works created after his death would meet Lye's personal standards.
Anyway, contemporary edition-making has taken an interesting turn with the works in many editions some editions being distinctly different, rather than replicas of each other. We experienced this phenomenon in a Parkett edition by Paul McCarthy. The first work sent to us was from a different planet to any images we had seen from the edition. When we asked for a more representative work, Parkett made the swap without any fuss.
This unique-item aspect of multiples has exciting potential for collectors. incredible individual works at a reasonable prices! The recent editions on offer from ArtSpace have a number of pieces that are multiply-unique. Each sculpture in Peter Robinson's edition of five for instance, will differ in various subtle ways and, having seen one, it's hard to imagine it being duplicated in any cloning sense of the word. They will all be unique works based on an original. Donald Judd once neatly described this kind of process as creating ‘different examples’.
Illustration: Paul McCarthy Billy Club 25/36