In 1975 I paid $250 for a signed number 85/200 lithographic reproduction of a $10,000 original watercolor by a British artist who was gracious enough to invite our art students to his New York studio to talk about the life of an artist in New York. The reproduction was honestly represented by his gallery. We have enjoyed it in our home for 30 years. After commission to the gallery, if they all sold, the artist eventually could have grossed about $25,000 for these reproductions and $5000 for the original (if it sold). I am not sure what he paid up front to get the lithographic printing done. For me, the original may have been a better investment than the signed and numbered reproduction, but would it have been as wise as investing the $10,000 in a down payment on our house?
This topic reminds us of the importance of covering the topic of "multiples" in our art classes. We hope a few of our students will be selling artwork, and we hope that a few more will be art buyers. I know artists who supplement their income by increasing the availability of their most popular artwork. Is it wrong to reproduce and sell our own images, or is it wrong to misrepresent reproductions as one-of-a-kind? How do we think our students would answer this posed as an ethical question? Is it honest or dishonest to call something an 'authentic' print? What are the merits of offering stronger images with entry level prices in order to make the work available to a mass market? Does it benefit society? In Goshen the art teachers are being required to include writing assignments to help prepare students for state tests. Would this be topic provide some good essay questions or journal entry?
Speaking of essays and testing, I have added two categories, FLUENCY and FLEXIBILITY, to the web page that discusses art tests that test for creativity and knowledge.