'explore How Mechanical Reproduction In The Twentieth Century Has Altered The Way In Which Art Is Perceived And Understood.'

1505 words - 6 pages

Mechanical reproduction was a movement that began in the twentieth century. The twentieth century saw the rise in industry and technology, which allowed for commercial items to be mass produced. This mass production, or mechanical reproduction as it came to be known, is reflective in the art of the time.Art depicts and reflects the time in which it was created. Often content, styles and method of production are relevant to social climate and evolving thoughts of an era.These mass produced items and the commercial market they created are evident in the art produced during the age of mechanical reproduction. Pop art was an avante garde movement within this period which predicted and reflected the rapid growth of the economy and the sudden need to consume.American pop artist Andy Warhol created numerous works throughout the rise of the movement. His works were primarily screen prints of photographs removed from magazines of celebrities popular at or around that time, or screen prints of commercial products (soup cans and washing powder, for example).The way in which he produced his works and their content are an example of mechanical reproduction in themselves. The principle of screen printing is to create a stencil image, and from this one stencil the same image may be reproduced continuously numerous times. This process is the equivalent to mass production.Whilst Warhol’s methods of production represent industry’s methods, so too does his content. Warhol’s work constantly incorporates images of commercial items of mass/ popular culture.Andy Warhol's '100 Soup Cans' and 'Marilyn Munroe Triptych’ are examples of highly consumerist content common in Warhol’s work. The first depicts one hundred Campbell’s soup cans, emphasising the huge quantities of products that are simply dropped of the production line and into super markets, conveniently in place for the public’s consumption.The second work depicts numerous reproductions of pop icon Marilyn Munroe. This work is a satirical comment on our consumerist society and how celebrities are often portrayed as commercial items that may be exploited for monetary gain, just as any other product.Pop art highlights the impact of mechanical reproduction on the culture of the time. Art works reflected, through their use of popular and consumerist images and repetitive methods, how items decreased metaphorically in value through their mass production.These commercial items such as Coca-Cola and Campbell’s soup cans were advertised so frequently that any wonder and curiosity in relation to them was lost. When this principle was applied to art, Walter Benjamin referred to it as works lacking in authenticity and losing their ‘aura’, the unseen substance that stirred admiration and amazement in the viewer.Andy Warhol’s works were repeated and reproduced hundreds of times to achieve the same impact as advertising. In this way it was argued that many pop...

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