The easy answer to that question was that it's the traditional way of doing it. Gallery exhibitions, picture monologue books and the like are almost exclusuvely, retrospects excluded, presented as unified thematic bodies of work. It would be fair to write that the Art World demands an artist's commitment to a unified body of work as one of the prices to pay for admittance to that world. So, since it is my intention to get as many of my pictures as possible in front of the public eye, I readily conform to that practice.
However, over the past few years I have made annual Year in Review books. Those books are comprised of what I consider to be the best of my pictures made within each calendar year regardless of the pictured referents. iMo and to my eye and sensibilities, the books hold together very well as bodies of unified pictures. That written it leads me to recount the following anecdote ...
A number of years ago it was my practice to almost aways have a folio box of +/- 20 prints of my pictures in my car. The point being that, if in my travels I passed by a gallery, I could pop in and (hopefully) visit with the gallery director and present my work. That M.O. was based on 2 reasons: 1) be prepared, and, 2) you never get what you don't ask for.
In any event, at that time my folio of prints was not representative of an individual body of work inasmuch as I hadn't reach the critical density of mass of pictures needed to create a unified thematic collection. The folio contained a very mixed message, re: pictured referents wise.
During one drive-by folio presentation, the gallery director was nearly done viewing the folio when he stopped and asked, "Are you a graphic designer?" "Yes I am", I answered. His response was, "I guessed as much because all of these pictures are of a unified vision / style / design (I don't remember his exact word - my word would be "FORM"). There is no doubt that the pictures were made by the same person."
(Of course) I took that as a high compliment and as evidence that I had achieved a recognizable manner of seeing which was not linked to a specific referent but rather discernable across a wide range of referents. Without a doubt, the vignetted corners and black border are an integral part of each of my pictures and constitute a repetitious component of my signature look. However, that was most definitely not what the gallery director was referring to. Rather, he took time to point out that he was commenting regarding the consistent look and resultant feel evinced by the pictures' visual structure / organization and visual energy. END OF STORY
Fast forward to the present. I have become somewhat obsessed with presenting mixed-message, referent wise, exhibitions of my pictures. I was very recently offered to do an exhibition in a regional gallery. The director had seen my Life Without the APA exhibit and suggested that I exhibit that work. I responded that I would but I would rather include it in a exhibition of 12 prints - 1 from each of 12 different bodies of my work - with each print to be accompanied by a book stand with a book of each body of work's other pictures
He like the idea so I'm off and running with that concept. Which only serves to validate the aforementioned reason #2 - you never get waht you don't ask for.