February 4, 2010
In the article “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”, Walter Benjamin, (1892-1940), brings up many interesting observations during the early nineteen hundreds. He questions how the reproduction of art work will impact the public. His concern: Will the reproduction of art change the original intent of the artist if the masses, (some uneducated), view it? He questions whether it may make a difference if we view works of art in large groups, or if you can not trace the art work’s ownership.
Walter Benjamin realizes that early art work was used in rituals, and then also in religious worship. What he is concerned about in his article is if art is mass produced, will it lose these original intentions?
In film, Benjamin is concerned that we will not have enough time to study a frame, and the camera man will be determining what we should think instead of forming our own opinion of the framed picture.
For me, it is hard to understand why he feels the privileged should only be able to view art and original art as well. It is presumptuous to think that the uneducated can not see the same beauty or meaning in a work of art as the wealthy educated class. Another question he addresses is: Does mass producing of a piece of art cheapen the original work, or is there value in mass producing art works? Benjamin leans toward that it indeed cheapens the art works and is not therefore beneficial.
I think as a student it is valuable to see as much art as possible, and even if mass produced reproductions do have some flaws, (they may not have the exact scale, color and textures), if it was not for these reproductions, many people would not ever even experience what the artist had created. But, of-course, seeing as many of the original art works will leave you with no doubt as to what the piece really is.