Multiples—prints and objects produced in large, affordable editions—became an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s. Artists who questioned the status of art as a luxury commodity embraced multiples as a more democratic art form. Joseph Beuys, for example, described his multiples as the “vehicles” through which his ideas could circulate among a broader public, beyond elite art networks. A multiple, he said, “is like an antenna which is standing somewhere and with which one stays in touch.”
Many of the multiples on view here mimic the appearance of popular products and packaging in order to comment on postwar consumerism. Some artists took advantage of new industrial materials, such as plastics, to fabricate objects that replicate the sleek look of contemporary housewares, while others used readymade products, food, or trash to address the culture of consumption and waste.