noun and verb. / əˈtriˌbyo͞ot /

1). An attribute is a symbol associated with a specific person, like a saint, that is used to identify them in art.

2). When experts attribute a work of art to an artist, they certify that it is likely made by that artist -- likely but not definitely. Attribution is a step below authentication in certainty.


noun. / ˌôTHenˈtisədē /

1). In the art market, authenticity is everything. You have to trust that you’re buying the real thing, so it is important to keep “certificates of authenticity” and other documents that prove a work of art is genuine. Some people train their whole lives to understand an artist’s market. These “connoisseurs” can help you determine the authenticity of a work of art.

2). Everywhere else, authenticity is a myth. Museums present certain objects as “authentic” representations of culture. But in reality, culture is more complicated than that. It resists being labeled “authentic” or “inauthentic.”


noun and verb. / əˈdiSH(ə)n /

1). An edition is a run of prints, sculptures and other replicable works of art. Some are “open editions,” meaning that the art can be infinitely reproduced. But most are “limited editions,” meaning that there is a limited amount of genuine works of art in the series.

2). A work of art from an edition is also called an “edition.” Prints and sculptures from the same edition are identical but they can be precious. They are usually signed and numbered by the artist. Buying editions is a great way to start buying art and supporting artists. They can reach wider audiences at lower, more accessible prices and they are each unique works of art in their own way.


noun. / ˈməltəpəl /

1). Multiples are identical works of art. They are not unique, by definition, but they can be quite valuable in all senses of the word. A Rodin bronze that can be cast several times is a multiple. A Warhol screenprint that can be printed several times is a multiple. Multiples pose philosophical questions about the nature of art and art’s uniqueness and they open up the art market to people who want to buy art at entry levels.


noun and verb. / print /

1). A print is a work of art produced using one of many complex processes but it generally entails transferring ink from a “matrix” to a “substrate.” The matrix determines the printing process (woodcuts use wood, lithographs use stone, silkscreens use silk) and the substrate is usually paper. Prints are a great place to start buying art. They can be more accessible and affordable than other works of art and they can still be quite valuable in all senses of the word. Prints can be one-of-a-kind, limited-edition and open-edition. The value of a print depends on the artist, the condition, the scale and the size of the edition.