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Revolutionary Work Of Art Essay

1890 words - 8 pages

Walter Benjamin emphasizes in his essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility” that technology used to make an artwork has changed the way it was received, and its “aura”. Aura represents the originality and authenticity of a work of art that has not been reproduced. The Sistine Chapel in the Vatican is an example of a work that has been and truly a beacon of art. It has brought a benefit and enlightenment to the art of painting, and it has an exemplary aura that cannot be replaced. A picture taken of the Sistine Chapel is just an imaged “captured”, while the painting is still original, because it is not movable, and its cult value is still intact. He asserts that the origin of an artwork gave its aura and authenticity and since it is not moveable, it does not have the ability to be reproduced by other artists. Therefore, the aura and authenticity is autocratic. For instance, the Sistine Chapel is owned and controlled by the Vatican—Catholic Cardinals. They control its usage to the masses. Once art becomes available to the masses, it becomes in a way ‘successful.’ In addition, he calls to attention that the forces of commercialization have subjected the aura of an artwork to cheapening cult value, which is a positive outcome for the masses.
Benjamin does not really find the work of art lamentable, but rather elevated. Replicating an art substitutes a mass existence for a distinctive existence, hence, the reproduction of art, once permitted, brings art closer to the masses (Benjamin 1054). As time gradually changes from its traditional past, to the present “renewal of humanity” (1054), so does the perception of the masses and its movement. I would argue that the development of technological reproduction and capitalism have led to the loss and decline of aura of an artwork, but brought about the politicizing of an art. The shift in traditional art to technological reproducibility such as photography and film has begun to dominate the perception of the mass. We can all agree that we have entered a new “age” of reproducibility that has a profound effect on global visual culture on film and photography (1058). The new age of reproducibility has demystifies the process of creating art, making available radical new access for art in mass culture. The development of technological reproducibility and the masses means of perception in contemporary life have led to an aura declination. Reproduction does not carry itself with artistic intellect because of the increasing images that are now accessible in the mass media—Google images— individuals do not really contemplate the work of art anymore. To illustrate, Benjamin writes that:
The desire of the present-day masses to “get closer” to things spatially and humanly, and their equally passionate concern for overcoming each thing’s uniqueness by assimilating it as a reproduction…The stripping of the veil from the object, the destruction of the aura, is the signature of a...

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