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Posts tagged ‘Design’

Forgery, Reproduction, Parody, Authenticity?

Authenticity is a fraught concept. Reproduction is a significant threat to the authentic, whether it comes in the form of fakes and forgeries, or even the authorised reproduction – in the form of a print, or a recast sculpture.

Writing in the 1930’s, Walter Benjamin discusses the effect that reproduction has on art, stating that:

“Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be. This unique existence of the work of art determined the history to which it was subject throughout the time of its existence. This includes the changes which it may have suffered in physical condition over the years as well as the various changes in its ownership. The traces of the first can be revealed only by chemical or physical analyses which it is impossible to perform on a reproduction; changes of ownership are subject to a tradition which must be traced from the situation of the original.”

Mortimer Menpes (1860-1938), special war artist

Mortimer Menpes, 1860-1938 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In other words, a reproduction can never fully replicate the original work because any copy will lack the authenticity of the original.

A crucial question, then, is it possible for a copy to recreate any of the power of an original? The answer, always difficult, probably has to be emphatically no. But still, high-quality reproductions of famous European artworks, part of the collection of Australia, are going to be displayed in the National Library of Australia, 100 years after their creation. The paintings were created by Mortimer Menpes, who made them to provide access to the artefacts of High European Art to an Australian public which could afford neither the time, nor the fare of travel to Europe to see the originals. To the extent that there is value in displaying these replicas (fakes?) even now, suggests that even a reproduction can hold some of the cultural power and authenticity of its original.

Of course, there is also the question of undetected forgeries, which might pass for original art work. History is littered with compelling frauds, fakes and forgeries, the detection of some of which made their authors all the more interesting.

I am sure that the annals are Art History are filled with these, but I am not so familiar with the subject; literary hoaxes, on the hand, are more my game. Thomas Wise, a bibliophile, funded his collection on the sale of forgeries. Interestingly, these forgeries are now themselves the focus of many collectors, to whom the story of the fakes makes these copies as valuable as the authentic pieces they originally were purported to be. The Sokal affair demonstrated the potential for mischief in some circles of literary theory, and provides comic relief to all those crazy enough to delve into the depths of deconstruction and post-structuralism, among other evils. And in Australia, the non-poet Ern Malley proved that sometimes poets produce their best work when pretending to be someone else, out of spite.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Geometry

Geometry isn’t always an inspirational subject. I remember struggling with trigonometry, eventually reaching a point where I could reliably get the correct answer, with absolutely no understanding of the mechanics underpinning the calculations. Geometry in photography though, is a much more attractive proposition.

The geometrically complex concert hall in Reykjavík, Harpa, provides a good setting for studies of geometry. The building itself, constructed of steel-framed polygonic windows was (and is) controversial. A product of the Icelandic artist Ólafur Elíasson, as well as Henning Larsen Architects and Batteríið, construction began before the 2008 crash which triggered world-wide economic difficulties.

The expensive building was the subject of considerable debate in Iceland, before the Parliament eventually agreed to fully fund the construction of the building. I’ve been told there was some discussion that the foundations of the building should be left unfinished, to remind Icelanders of their economic folly, and as a tribute to hubris. We can, should, and must be grateful that things turned out differently, and that we have instead a beautiful, striking building which could be thought of as a Sydney Opera House (another exercise in geometry, budget overruns, and for which we can now all be grateful) of the North.

The interaction between the mirrored ceiling, the lights — which were designed to evoke the Aurora Borealis, and the optical-illusory nature of the various internal levels are astonishing. It is hard to imagine that the designers knew exactly what effect their design would have, but the building stands, gorgeously, as testament to geometry and architecture.

PJD

Photos by PJD, on a cold evening in early September, 2012.

Weekly Photo Challenged?

Nothing quite like a quick trip to IKEA…

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PJD
Photo by PJD

Not seeing how long it took is part of the intrigue…

Last week, PJD shared an in-depth glimpse into one of the art exhibitions that we have been most impressed with, ever. This was the incredible Slow Art exhibition at the Nationalmuseum, which we were lucky to find by chance when we were in Stockholm recently.

We were so surprised at the beauty of the pieces collected together in this small exhibition. In keeping with the theme, due to our captivation with what our eyes saw, we slowly took it all in.

Slow Art has really lingered in our minds; we have discussed many of the pieces we saw in the exhibition a number of times since we returned home to Leiden, reflecting on the fact that an overarching characteristic of the works was their exquisite beauty and uniqueness. So, today I thought I would share a few more of our favourite pieces. Sure, we loved them all, and the ones that PJD has already documented in his post were certainly amongst the most impressive. Yet, the depth of the quality in this small collection was quite astonishing, and these pieces really are quite something… Read more

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge

At first, this week’s photo challenge seemed rather tricky. But with deeper reflection, and a number of conversations travelling to and from Utrecht, CIA and I settled on some photos from the Louvre. It’s been a week heavy with posts about Museums, so hopefully this will not push all you readers over the edge, but here are three efforts at finding a merge in the photographic world – without utilising photoshop™.

Architecture into Art; Art into Architecture

I.M Pei has already been congratulated once in this blog, for his Magnificent MUDAM. And we have MUDAM to thank for introducing us to the glorious work of Wim Delvoye. In this case, we get the interaction of Pei’s architecture-as-art Pyramid in the Louvre, and Delvoye’s art-as-achitecture beautiful, refined twisted gothic tower pointing straight at the pinnacle of the pyramid. The ominous Parisian sky above adds a sense of foreboding to the image.

Art, History, Literature – accident or intention?


When I saw this piece, I immediately thought of Animal Farm, I don’t know at all if Delvoye meant to evoke the novel, but that novel’s excoriating exposition of the perils of totalitarianism certainly would seem to align with the artist’s dislike of establishment. Additionally, this was the Napoleon Apartments, and so:

The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

The Louvre, literary references, the weight of history. What more could anyone want?

Architecture and the epitome of modern consumer design

So, an inverted pyramid (thank you again Mr Pei), and in the background, an Apple™ store. What else? There’s a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

PJD

Photos by CIA and PJD, le Louvre, Paris, June 2012 (Merged).

Three museum moments

If you’ve been keeping up with the blog, you might have noticed we have a thing about museums. Art museums, history museums, design museums, national museums. We like to engage with the collections, the curatorship, the physical spaces. We like to think about how the buildings enhance, diminish or otherwise interact with their surroundings, their contents and their visitors. And so I have selected three museum moments, instances where the museum we were in at the time took an unexpected twist…

The Chinese Garden Court, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

It was my first time in the Met, and CIA was showing me around some of her favourites. Having seen some of the western art, we decided to check out some of the Asian collection. What neither of us expected at all was to stumble into the Chinese Garden Court. It was nearly empty (a stark contrast to the Impressionist paintings), so peaceful, and the conjunction of modern atrium, tiling, bamboo and rocks just took our breath away. A brilliant moment.

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No one sees how long it took…

A trip to Nationalmuseum in Stockholm turned into an unexpected highlight of our time in that wonderful city. Over breakfast, we planned out our day. This is not something we do very often, but there were so many things we wanted to see and experience, it seemed necessary. Our planned day required us to walk right past the building, inspired by North Italian architecture, which houses Sweden’s national collection. It seemed foolish not to have a look.

As is so often the case with these things, our intended stay of 30 minutes turned into 45, trickled into an hour, and time melted away as we were engaged, first with the general collection, then with an exhibition (briefly discussed already), and then we came upon something completely unexpected, Slow Art.

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