Murray Macaulay, director of the contemporary art fair, explains why multiplication is beneficial for artists and the public alike
“Enthusiasm for the printed image” must be the perfect tagline for an art fair focused solely on contemporary editions. A fair like Christie’s MULTIPLIED for instance, which since its inception five years ago has been staged annually during Frieze week at Christie’s iconic South Kensington salerooms. But you won’t find these words scrawled in casual italics below the fair’s logo. The aforementioned quote can be attributed to fair director Murray Macaulay to describe his own artistic tendencies. With a background in printmaking in his native South Africa, he’s been at Christie’s since 2000, initially as Head of Sale of Prints and now as a specialist at the King Street Print Department. I think that’s what you call a perfect fit.The idea for MULTIPLIED was borne out of a trip to Editions/Artists’ Books (E/AB) in New York, which runs alongside the city’s IFPDA Print Fair. “E/AB focuses on a mixture of well established galleries and print shops, but also more esoteric self-publishing and younger emerging artists,” says Macaulay, as we chat on the phone between meetings. “We thought it was a really interesting and vital dynamic that we hadn’t really experienced in London. We thought there was a niche for us to occupy. Initially it was quite scary: we hadn’t organised a sale before, but in some ways we put on an art fair almost every week with our auctions – they’re complicated, logistical and curated shows.”
“I think people often view of prints as being second rate, maybe not as important as the other stuff but actually that’s not the experience of artists”
This year, they’ll be “a dialogue between old and new” says Macaulay, with live 3D printing as well as demonstrations of more traditional methods such as woodblock printing. “But the key thing to remember”, he says, “is that the fair focuses on brand new material. It’s stuff that largely doesn’t appear in our salerooms. They’ll be new additions, artists that are emerging or additions from well-known artists that haven’t been seen in the market before.”
Alongside high profile work by the likes of Turner Prize-nominated Yinka Shonibare MBE and Sir Peter Blake RA, as usual, part of the fair will showcase graduates: “We’ve always set aside part of the fair to new and emerging galleries, and part of that has always been a graduate element. This year we’re working with three institutions: Slade, the RCA and MiAL.”
MiAL, or Made in Arts London, is a not for profit organisation selling art and design created by students and graduates of the University of the Arts London. This ethos of assisting new and undiscovered talent to gain exposure is very much in line with the thinking behind MULTIPLIED and editions are also a way for artists at all levels to make their art more accessible and affordable and thus reach a wider and possibly younger audience.
“I think people often view prints as being second rate, maybe not as important as the other stuff,” says Macaulay, “but actually that’s not the experience of artists. There are a lot of artists who devote considerable time and energy to making prints and editions. For them they’re an absolutely essential part of their art-making process. We’re really passionate about communicating that to the general public and showing the really amazing stuff that’s being produced by a new generation of artists.
“Editions by their nature are generally more affordable than unique works, that’s just the dynamic of the marketplace – if you have more available, they can be offered at a more reasonable price. If you have the privilege of buying them at more reasonable price, that’s a plus on both sides I think.”So just as the very process of printing and editions helps artists to regenerate a piece of work, in a sense it also enables them to regenerate their audience.
Multiplied runs 17-20 October at Christie’s South Kensington showrooms, 86 Old Brompton, London SW7 3LD. Click HERE for more information