The contemporary art market is soaring, with some of the world’s best investments to be found on the walls of prominent collectors. Given the economic turbulence of the last twenty years, art has remained a stable market - seeing gains where others have dipped. Unlike typical financial investments, art also has intrinsic aesthetic value; allowing the collector to own something that they enjoy without forgoing the fiscal benefit. Despite the fact that potential buyers encounter art almost every day, the first step into curating a collection can be daunting; with countless mediums, styles and artists to choose from, how does one know where to start? The second barrier to entry is cost, with first-time buyers reluctant to invest large sums in a market that they have no experience of.
This is where limited editions can prove to be immensely attractive propositions. They allow the artist to offer multiple versions of a single work. The total amount of editions will be capped, preventing supply from further increasing and allowing the buyer to know that they are investing in a piece of limited stock, which will retain its value due to this relative scarcity. Artists have even been known to prevent further editions from entering the market by destroying the original work materials, such as negatives, printing plates or even digital files. The initial limited run is known as the ‘first edition’, the most sought after segment of the process. These will often be numbered, signed and even delivered alongside a certificate of authentication from the dealer/gallery.
Usually, editions will be identical. This allows the buyer to know that they are purchasing the work as intended by the artist, a version of the original that does not differ. Often, first-time art buyers are priced out of the market for originals - and editions can bridge this gap. Limited edition runs can also include what’s known as the ‘Artist’s Proof’, sometimes referred to as A/P or AP. They are fewer in number than the edition prints and may even contain unique elements such as annotations by the artist and slight colour variations. This tends to mean that AP’s cost more upfront; however, they often fetch more if the buyer ever chooses to sell the work.
Limited editions offer a great opportunity for art lovers to enter the market and start building their own collection. They allow buyers to attain a piece from their favourite artists whilst short runs ensure that the pieces retain their value down the line. There are a number of variables that will affect the price of editions, and it is always prudent to liaise with the dealer or gallery in order to get a full picture of a particular run.
The Distassi Art team