‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction’: how has the reproduction of images changed the development of art? Identify three works of your choice to support your argument.
This essay will start from Walter Benjamin’s consideration about the impact of mechanical reproduction of art as revolutionizing its social function and will describe the noticeable validity of his theory in the contemporary world. By introducing three artworks that belong to different historical periods, namely, the ‘Mechanical Head’ by Raoul Hausmann, ‘Furhead’ by John McHale and ‘Thirty Are Better Than One’ by Andy Warhol, the impact of photography and of the new technologies in contributing to the development of these works will be analysed.
All …show more content…
Raoul Hausmann, ‘Mechanical Head’:
Benjamin defines the Dada movement as a clear example of the attempt to “create by pictorial – and literary – means the effects which public today seeks in the film” (Benjamin, 1968: 13). The reproducibility of art eliminates its uniqueness – its “aura” – in favour of an adaptation to the tools of modernity, transforming the role of the artist in the one of the engineer and his work in a construction. Haussman’s work moves between political criticisms, as he tries to exemplify in this head the example of the modern man, and scientific approaches, as he uses new technological techniques such as montage and photomontage as a tool for his art.
John McHale, ‘Furhead’:
This work is a representation of how mechanical reproduction of art leads to artworks that take the form of communicative gestures such as newspaper and demonstrates how art and non-art are interchangeable and how the role of the artist is not anymore defined by the art object itself. The shape of a face created through different fragments of magazines and postcards is a symbolic image of man that, as McHale sustains “matches up the requirements of constant change, fleeting impression and a high rate of obsolence” (McHale, 2011: 33).
Andy Warhol, ‘Thirty Are Better Than One’:
The last artwork is another example of how the modern world of repetition leads to the
Art History is the study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts. The history of art, we feel, can sometimes be confused with art criticism. However, Art History is concerned with finding the value of the artistic piece in respect with others in the same category of art or movement, and art criticism is more of an evaluation of art. The art examined best represents the culture during the time period, visions the artist imagined, and history behind an event. It also represents society in a specific area, beliefs the people may have, writing that tells a story, the natural world and environment, conflict between people and areas, and the human body. With these representations, artwork overall represents the life in which we live (d). Each piece has its own genre, design, format and style to it. This makes each piece extremely different, yet pleasing to the eye. They also vary between paintings, sculptures and architecture. These different types also make a variety of artwork to be seen by all people. The art pieces that I chose, Jar, Bottle and Glass by Juan Gris, The Persistence of Memory by Salvador Dalí, and Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh, seemed interesting to me and I believe to best represent the context in which they were created, along with the major artistic movements of the time. I went on to research them more thoroughly to better understand the history behind them,
Photography was an ideal medium with which to explore the payers of the unconscious mind. Modernist photographers experimented with double exposure and unusual new effects similar to those of visionary Surrealist painters and sculptors. A champion of the technique, Raoul Hausmann, called photomontage “the ‘alienation’ of photography”. By this, he implied that photomontage destroyed the role of photography as a medium of recreating physical reality. But the statement also suggests that by its dependence on fragmentation and dislocation, photomontage offered a visually and conceptually new image of the chaos of an age of war and revolution.
Marcel Duchamp stated that "It was his achievement to treat the camera as he treated the paintbrush, as a mere instrument at the service of the mind” (Biography.com, 2017). In addition, the photogram might seem expressive and abstract, yet on the contrary, it is the precise medium to document the everyday objects in an unrepeatable and somehow uncontrollable way. The artist cannot predict how the selected objects will be recorded under the light sources that were tampered with. From the first glance, the image completely dissociated from its original subject, allowing one’s memory to fill the gap. Yet below its surface, the image is an accurate documentation that captured a moment of psychical intensity. It revealed a new visual experience, using objects in the simplest way. One can say that the use of this medium disclosed reality more preciously due to its invisibility and mysterious representation (The Museum of Modern Art, 2017).
Art by its nature is a subject of the philosophical, social, economic, political or religious context surrounding its creator. More often than not, a work of art addresses a specific topic or somewhat revolves around a particular person. Therefore, it is impossible to separate the context of a piece of painting, either historical or cultural, to its intrinsic value or the artwork's meaning. On the other hand, different cultures and time utilized specific conventions that govern the representation of objects of creativity. This essay highlights various pieces of art and their relationship to particular cultural, political, economic, or social settings. Moreover, it pinpoints how different times influence art presentation.
With images, words, and sounds been almost endlessly reproduced and distributed, various critics of modern culture suggest that traditional ideas about art and authenticity are no longer applicable. The problem is said to have been noticed back in the 1930s in the popular essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction that was concerned about what would happen to the “aura” of unique works of art when photography and other techniques if anybody could make unlimited copies of images. With the rise of digital technology, copying ability became vast and complex and hence the idea of originality is thrown into
In John Berger’s essay “Ways of Seeing,” he shares his view on how he feels art is seen. Mr. Berger explores how the views of people are original and how art is seen very differently. By comparing certain photographs, he goes on to let his Audience, which is represented as the academic, witness for themselves how art may come across as something specific and it can mean something completely different depending on who is studying the art. The author goes into details of why images were first used, how we used to analyze art vs how we do today, and the rarity of arts. He is able to effectively pass on his message by using the strategies of Rhetoric, which include Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.
The essay will make use of the works of photographic artists who engage in one of the two schools of photography, Pictorialism and Modernism. The artists that will be used for this essay are Paul Strand who has been selected for the Modernist development together with a Russian artistic photographer Alexander Rodchenko and As White remained rooted to Pictorialism, his stance on his methodology and set up in the 1920s and 1930s led to occurrence of the stirring up of quite a number of understudies to handle his visualization style which was fresh and innovative (White, Clarence H., Jr. and Peter C. Bunnell 1965). In the process of talking about the two schools of photography, Pictorialism and Modernism rather than focus on the clash and disagreements that occurred from Pictorialism and Modernism it is more suitable to examine the merits in both the method and styles used in the two schools of
The earliest forms of art had made it’s mark in history for being an influential and unique representation of various cultures and religions as well as playing a fundamental role in society. However, with the new era of postmodernism, art slowly deviated away from both the religious context it was originally created in, and apart from serving as a ritual function. Walter Benjamin, a German literary critic and philosopher during the 1900’s, strongly believed that the mass production of pieces has freed art from the boundaries of tradition, “For the first time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependance on ritual” (Benjamin 1992). This particular excerpt has a direct correlation with
He says that It does not represent true value, but rather the monetary value of originals nowadays. “The bogus religiosity which now surrounds original works of art, and which is ultimately dependent upon their market value, has become the substitute for what paintings lost when the camera made them reproducible. Its function is nostalgic. It is the final empty claim for the continuing values of an oligarchic, undermocratic culture… Reproduction isolates a detail of a painting from the whole. The detail is transformed. An allegorical figure becomes a portrait of a girl.” (page 11) which is the Venus and Mars by Botticelli in 1445 – 1510. The aspect of technology is not only show art in reproductions, it has a bias message to everyone receives and also ruin the original by reducing it more than it’s original value in currency that is an interesting thought that reproductions is allowing approach to
Secondly, the medium that Hoch and Rosenquist use witnesses how mass media, industrialization, and mass consumption marched. The photomontage is like a poster or a magazine page while the oil painting is like most large-scale billboard paintings. The Beautiful Girl and The Light That Won’t Fail I are given the feel of an advertisement. In Hoch’s photomontage and Rosenquist ‘soil painting, we see Hoch and Rosenquist were engaging with the new forms of mass media of their time periods. Hoch, as Dadaist, made a great contribution to developing photomontage as medium of representation. Dada artists replaced paint all together, making use exclusively of ready-made
Since the beginning of art, typical mediums have consisted of oil paints, marble, pastels, and charcoals. As time has progressed, and aesthetics have changed, so has the extensive list of mediums found in art. One medium in particular, known as the use of “found objects” has become increasingly more popular since the days of the Renaissance. Found object art can be as straightforward as Marcel Duchamp’s “Fountain,” which is a urinal fountain that is simply orientated sideways and signed; this, bordering the line between art and an object from everyday life, brings forth many questions and lots of public controversy. Art has always caused this same controversy, but one main argument frequently surrounding found objects is the extent unto which the piece must be abstracted or reincorporated in order to be considered “art.”
Returning to Benjamin, he writes that, “Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space” (Benjamin II) which corroborates the speaker of the poem’s stance that, “Meaning takes place in time” (Solie 38). Although Benjamin’s thoughts focus more on the ubiquity and lack of authenticity that occurs with mass image production and reproduction, “Bitumen” shares some of these concerns, tracing the development of modern proliferation of images from the first imagining techniques of Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce, to the “photochrome postcards” (32) of late 19th century, up to video- sharing websites. The speaker of “Bitumen” looks to construct a timeline of image mediation alongside the aestheticization of catastrophe. Even calamitous weather events, which “Bitumen” ties to the “unseasonable” (34) weather that results from global warming, becomes a sublime, photogenic spectacle with the ubiquity and quotidian character of modern image and film: “tornados on YouTube relieve us of our boredom” (“Bitumen” 33). The speaker of “Bitumen” argues that these mediations pacify rather than invigorate, and replace what should be fear and action with awe and
During the 1960s and 1970s, artists were interested in rejecting the Modernist obsession with the aesthetic and began by questioning the formal qualities tied to this aesthetic .The goal of art in the post-modern standard is no longer predominantly behavioral, as it still was in the modern, but perceptive. The post-modern is the art of the artificial environment. Artists favored the readymade object as more powerful than the supposedly new crafted objects produced by Modernist artists. By willingly allowing the practice of appropriation that occurs within the production of all art, these artists pulled the power of pre-existing imagery and signs to produce “new” works with multiple layers and multiple meanings. In order to perceive the
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
In a ‘tradition breaking spirit’ [D’Alleva, 2012], that characterised modernist artists, early in the twentieth century, Duchamp abandoned traditional ideas and techniques, to create a new kind of ‘art’, one that the idea behind a work of art is more important that its visual realization, the ‘retinal’. The ready-mades was the product of Duchamp’s questioning what art is.