Should Original Art be More Valuable Than a Copy?

Money and Art / Original and Copy

Can multiples of art be considered original?

I think there are two issues at hand with the question. The first issue has to do with what qualities make something original. The second issue is assigning value to an art piece.

Any time you make a copy of something, there will be slight variations to the final product. In block printing, the amount of control the artist has when making the copy is less than the printer who is making a copy from an offset press. Both processes, however, will produce variations- either on purpose by manipulating pressure, color, paper choice etc. - or on accident because there was extra thinner in the ink for instance. In any case, the piece becomes an original in the sense that there are unique characteristics to each copy.

The design, however, isn't unique because it is based on a previous design- the original. This can also be said, for instance, of a handmade blown glass vase. If an artist follows the same formula as the last time, the piece may not be a "copy" like a printed piece, but it is still a copy in the design and will probably be hard to distinguish from the last piece all things being equal. Interestingly, the copied vase would probably be considered more valuable, than a copy of a print (when comparing the value of the first or original).

This brings us to the second issue of value. We have discussed in a previous article about assigning value to a piece of art. If the ultimate determination is time, then Picasso's Peace poster would have little value. If the value is in an original- than all works of art, even those produced in multiples would have to hold equal value, because none are exact replicas (in the purest form).

To conclude my thought on this, I think value is assigned on something that is often equated with the word value...money. Money equals value in this case. So to ask the question of "how to value" one work of art over another based on original or copy, there is a basic economic principal that will decide the value- supply and demand. If there is only 1 of something in existence and 50 people want it- the monetary value goes up. If there is 50 of something and 50 people want one- the monetary value goes down, because there is enough for everyone. So, whether the work of art is an original or copy, if only one were to exist- the value I think would be high in both cases.

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MFB III 6 years ago from United States

I have produced thousands of pieces of miniature art, mostly wearable in the form of necklaces and pins. I have been asked by theaters to cover such logos as Les Mis, The Phantom, Cats, and Tommy, the rock opera, as well as producing endless mimes, piano, comedy-tragedy, and other arts based works. My Les Mis pins consisted of eigth layers of clay to create the bust of the french girl , her tattered clothing and the flag she held. each piece I have ever made , holds the actual fingerprints of the sculptor, I never duplicate, but strive to make small changes in each piece to make them unique. This has been a formula of success for me, yes, it takes more time, and molds would be easier, but the end result is pure art. There is a place for prints, and resin cast recreations, and all other forms of art duplications, they bring joy to those who cannot afford the real thing. But the real thing should be far less affordable to the masses, lest it to become commonplace. Loved your hub...thanks for sharing.~~~MFB III

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