Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction Essay

3126 Words 13 Pages
Visit any major museum of art, at any given time, and one could find an abundance of monumental names listed on tiny plaques hanging next to even more recognizable works of art. The excitement felt by any art enthusiast when walking into these buildings of time and creation, is undeniable and especially unique. Could it be the atmosphere of the building, the presence of artwork, the people, possibly the grandeur of the space, or perhaps, could it be the spirit of the artists themselves, peering through the work they created?

As onlookers peer into the artworks in front of them, there is no question as to whether or not they considered what the artwork means, where it came from and what the artist was interested in who created it. The
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Benjamin’s death in 1940 at the age of 48, is rumored to be a suicide when the Naza’s took office, but is still a mystery. His ideas and concepts however, would live on for decades to come. Much of what he wrote about when discussing art came essentially after the development of photography and film. In his work, “Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Benjamin addresses his perception of the changes in art and the aesthetic experience congruent with societal changes. He writes with concern of how the great artworks are viewed after the introduction of photography and film. His idea of mechanical reproduction changed the art world as society knew it, particularly in how the public views artwork and the value of that work as more and more people are able to own, view and discuss it. This paper will specifically look at aspects of Benjamin’s groundbreaking essay and how educators can relate his ideas to the practices in their art classrooms. Much of what Benjamin discusses in his essay has to do with what he describes as the “aura” or spirit of an artwork. He discusses this spirit and how it is obtained, lost, given and received. He suggests that the aura of an artwork we know and understand today is much different from how it was understood in the time and place of its production. The aura Benjamin speaks of is obtained because of the artwork’s uniqueness and authenticity, which in turn is lost due the act of mass production. In describing this
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