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Are All Multiples the Same? The Problematic Nature of the Limited Edition

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The aim of this inquiry is to determine whether printmaking is best understood ontologically as analogous to a work‐performance relation. Are prints the visual analogue of symphonies? My motivation for pursuing the comparison of printmaking to music is twofold. First, because relatively little has been written on the ontology of fine art prints, our use of an already developed body of scholarship will help us to gain some traction on the question. Second, within the existing literature on the ontology of prints, there seems to be a persistent confusion about the difference between what makes a print an artwork, and what makes it a genuine or authentic artwork, signed or in some other way ratified by a given artist. I conclude by suggesting that prints are indeed ontologically unusual insofar as they occupy an intermediate position between pure multiples, of which there can be an unlimited number of tokens, and singular artworks that consist of one physical object.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2015

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