Art’s Originality: Is it Blowing Away Like Dust In the Wind?

Walter’ Benjamin’s article touched on a point I struggle to understand as an Art Lover and Critic.  Let’s be honest… we’ve all purchased prints famous painting replicas of Art by the Old Masters because unless you’re planning to also acquire the Vatican, you more than likely can not afford the original.

Like I said as an Art Lover and Critic I walk a fine line between appreciating the process of mass reproduction which at points in my life has allowed me to purchase mementoes in the form of paintings, prints and pictures which I have tastefully displayed around my house.  If it had not been for the technology evolutions that allowed these images to be distributed amongst the masses then my walls would be bare.

On the other hand however, there is nothing quite like walking into London’s National Portrait Gallery or Paris’s Musée d’Orsay as you spend hours gazing at the Monets and Rembrandts that through careful preservation still display the final brush strokes from the oil pigments against the master’s palette.

So the new media question at stake of course goes back to a point made within Benjamin’s article about the work of art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: Does an original work depreciate as old and new media spread the image/video/composition/script/film through the society at large.  I’m inclined to say… Kind of.

Let’s look at a prime example analyzing the true original artist you would never call out for being a sell out- Bob Dylan.  Did you know in addition to being one of the world’s most revered singer, songwriter, poet, and Folk star that Bob Dylan also painted?  It’s true, this is a great site that features his work:

I took a summer school class on Bob Dylan and the reason why I bring him up as an example is because for 4 weeks all I heard about was Bob Dylan’s poignant personality and real authenticity.  When we covered the ‘painting’ aspect of his career, which began in early 2004… the fans in my class ironically became quite disappointed, dare I say enraged and went as far to denounce the man they once held on a pedestal.

New Media allowed me to learn about Bob Dylan’s career as a painter, ( but when I began to study how his career developed and how this medium was simply an outlet he tapped into later, I understood his paintings better and thus appreciated their originality.  It’s a fine line, but I think every artist will walk it at some point thanks to the continuing development of technology and information sharing.

Benjamin’s article also references the following quote…

“Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven will make films… all legends, all mythologies and all myths, all founders of religion, and the very religions… await their exposed resurrection, and the heroes crowd each other at the gate.”

I have to admit, if I could host a new media salon in my new house’s burnt orange living room, you could bet that Shakespeare, Rembrandt, Beethoven, Francis Ford Coppola and Bob Dylan would all be there.  Can you imagine what philosophical musings these guys might have about the meaning of art evolving toward an Age of New Media?  I hope Bob brings his guitar.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Alan H. Rose
    Sep 28, 2010 @ 23:56:15

    I’m sure pretty much everyone buys reproductions of famous pieces of art, except me. I may be one of the only ones. I prefer to frame photos I have taken as a photographer, whether it be from a baseball game, beach, the list goes on. This made me think, are my pictures art to others or just to myself? If I take a picture inside the dugout during a baseball game is my picture any more “art-worthy” than someone else who takes a similar picture? I have come to a similar conclusion that we decided on in class — more or less, art is defined differently to each person. Sure there is a broad definition but the specifics are cloudy. So, are the pictures I’ve taken that are hanging in my room art or just meaningful photos to me?

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