The Mystification of the Artistic Object

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Art: The mystification of the artistic object When we see art, we are not seeing 'the thing itself,' but only a version of itself, mediated through the point of view of the artist, according to BBC essays John Berger. This is most famously illustrated in Monet's series of paintings of water lilies, which show the way the light reflects upon various flowers at different points in time. The paintings do not attempt to show a literal rendition of the lilies, merely the artist's impression of them (hence the term 'Impressionist' to describe the movement of which Monet was a part). However, as well as the original artist's perception of the subject, the gazer is also affected by his culture, previous experiences, and even the physical setting of where he perceives the art. The fact that Monet is considered a great artist might cause a gazer to look at the work with reverence, even if it produced no sensation in him or her. Of course, there is another possible emotion that might be invoked by the Impressionists: ennui. The Impressionists were considered radical in their era, but today they are considered 'tame' because of the ways in which they have been re-contextualized as the appropriate subjects of greeting cards and decorations of mouse pads. Rather than the unique impression of a landscape, water lilies have become a visual cliché. "Ours is a culture obsessed with Impressionism. It translates well to tea-cozies, coffee mugs, mouse pads, greeting cards mass produced

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