With and without walls: photographic reproduction and the art museum

Henning, Michelle (2015) With and without walls: photographic reproduction and the art museum. In: Museum Media. The International Handbooks of Museum Studies, 3 . Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK, pp. 577-602. ISBN 9781118829059

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Abstract

This chapter explores ideas and arguments about the proliferation and circulation of photographic and digital reproductions of art. The existence of widely circulated reproductions before photography, and the early mingling of photography with painting and printmaking, demonstrates that the distinction between photographic reproduction and handmade original was always blurred. Even so, this distinction has informed thinking about art, reproduction, and museums. In the early twentieth century artists, curators, and art theorists thought that photography and photomechanical reproduction threatened the original work of art. The concepts of originality, aura, facture, and style became key, to distinguish photomechanical prints from valuable artworks, photography from painting. A new way of seeing seemed to be emerging – which treated reproduction as transparent, placed high value on originality and facture, and found new stylistic connections between images in the “museum without walls.” Modern forms of attention seemed to challenge the individualistic model of aesthetic contemplation enshrined in museums. Building on these early ideas, and situating them in relation to more recent discussion of digital and electronic media, this chapter argues that new practices of personal photography and image sharing require us to reimagine the museum with and without walls as potentially more “delirious,” playful, anarchic, and plural.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: art museum; aura; Walter Benjamin; facture; André Malraux; museum without walls; originality; photography; reproduction
Subjects: Media
Media > Photography
Arts > Art and design history
Library and information sciences
Depositing User: Michelle Henning
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2016 12:05
Last Modified: 30 Aug 2017 09:42
URI: http://repository.uwl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1670

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