Reproducible Art

30 08 2007

I think there are both positive and negatives to the increasing reproducibility of art. In the past, I have seen paintings that I fell in love with. The fact that I was unable to see it all the time or hang it in my room was, in a way, good. The old saying “absence makes the heart grow fonder” comes to mind. Not seeing the painting made me rely more on my own recollections. When I did see the painting again, it seemed to be even more beautiful than before; my memory had dulled its beauty.

On the other hand, I have also bought prints of paintings that I like. One example, The Scream by Edvard Munch, is one of my favorite paintings. I bought the print and put it above my bed. Seeing it every day dulled me to it in one way, but also connected it to me in another way. Whenever I see it outside of my room, I feel like I’m seeing a relative or friend. When people talk about the work, I feel like they are talking about someone I know. I don’t think I could have built that kind of attachment to a work that I only saw a few times, no matter how much I loved it.

As a whole, I think the ability for everyone to make and have art, if they so choose, is great. I don’t think artwork should be restricted from people who don’t have the money, time, natural talent, or training to be experts or professionals. The only caveat I see is that people can very easily steal works, whether for their private enjoyment or personal gain. I think there should be better safeguards for those artists who do want to be credited for their work in whatever way they deem necessary. If an artist wants only those people with whom he or she feels comfortable sharing his work, I don’t think the artist should have to let everyone see and have it. Likewise, if an artist wants to create a masterpiece, turn it into mass-produced refrigerator magnets, and distribute them to everyone with a mail box, that’s just fine. That doesn’t make the artwork any less meaningful (provided it had meaning in the first place).

I don’t think the ability to mass produce and distribute artwork is bad or harmful, it’s just different from the way things were before. The system as it is now is not perfect, but then again, the system as it was before wasn’t either.

-Rose Soorenko




3 responses

31 08 2007

There is an original copy of “The Scream,” (in Oslo, Noway). Would owning this be better than owning the copy you have? How about owning one of the limited edition lithographs produced by Edvard Munch himself? Would you respond to these versions differently?

–dr t

2 09 2007

I think owning the true original would be too much pressure for me, that painting has a habit of getting stolen and I wouldn’t want to be held accountable for it. Personally, I like my print version. I don’t have to worry about its condition, I’m not liable if it is damaged. The whole world isn’t relying on me to preserve one of its valuables.

3 09 2007
dr t

Good point. Reproducible art is less fragile.

The best way to make sure an artwork survives is to make lots of copies of it.

–dr t

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