Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I don't see Peter Greenaway's installation as trying "to be" the last supper as much as creating another interpretation of the masterpiece. It seems his intention was to bring back a mystical emotional connection that the veiwer participated in. By bringing the illusion of natural light into the room, and by adding other elements, he has as he says, created a diologue with the subject which it seems to me is not about "cloning" a work of art, but bringing his own artistic sensibilities to life in response and in conjunction with the original image. He has in a sense created a new artwork, the way a play or piece of music takes an idea as it's muse and then expands on it.
 The article discusses the importance of context and I think that in cases, especially of religious nature, having the painting in the environment the artist meant for it to be in makes huge difference in the way that work of art will be seen and felt. In those cases the argument for a superior reproduction seems to me well made if the original cannot be had.
 I've often wondered to myself if the paintings I was looking at in a museum were the originals. Would most people know the difference? I think the feeling one gets from looking at a real work of art as oppossed to a mechanical reproduction cannot be reproduced. Tracing the brush strokes, following the color shifts and textural variations is what makes looking at original works of art a transcendent experience.  It's not merely the image you fall into, but the process of it's creation. It becomes a bridge through time. When I look at an artist's painting I love, for example Van Gogh, I often have a profoundly emotional response. Is it because of the vividness of the color or the richness of the paint or all the tragic story of his life? I feel that "aura" if that's what you want to call it, or spirit or ghost or memory of the life that created it. If it's an imitation, then I guess the joke is on me. That connection is not a true physical one but a self-created one. Does that make it less real? I don't know but it would certainly be dissapointing.
I think the concept of who owns a work of art and whether or not it can be copied, is an interesting question, given the relatively modern ability to instantly reproduce all forms of art including writing and music, off the internet. It is extremely concerning and relevant to all artists.

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