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Why am I so angry about this?
April 28, 2005 5:42 PM   Subscribe

Munch's "The Scream" destroyed. (?) According to the paper Dagbladet, it has been. "The Madonna" as well.
posted by absalom (75 comments total)

 
Well, it's not definite yet. But still...

This makes me wanna

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:45 PM on April 28, 2005


If true, perhaps torture would be appropriate. Once the destroyers felt like the painting subject than it could stop.
posted by caddis at 5:46 PM on April 28, 2005


"then"
posted by caddis at 5:47 PM on April 28, 2005


There's several different versions of The Scream, only one was stolen and destroyed. The version that Civil_Disobedient posted is the oil, tempera, and pastel on cardboard version, which is a lot nicer looking than the tempera on cardboard version that was stolen and destroyed.

Wikipedia has more info.
posted by nmiell at 5:52 PM on April 28, 2005


.
posted by Scoo at 6:10 PM on April 28, 2005


.
posted by caddis at 6:26 PM on April 28, 2005


.
posted by R. Mutt at 6:33 PM on April 28, 2005


nmiell, ty for the info.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 6:36 PM on April 28, 2005


One step closer to a world where hands to the face means not Munch but Macauley.
posted by NickDouglas at 6:36 PM on April 28, 2005


.

And yes, thanks for the info nmiell. I seem to recall there being different versions of The Scream, but I thought I was just imagining things.
posted by May Kasahara at 6:41 PM on April 28, 2005


I wonder if it made a noise or went peacefully?
posted by Peter H at 6:43 PM on April 28, 2005


.
posted by pieisexactlythree at 6:50 PM on April 28, 2005


WTF is with people?

I'm inclined to think that the punishment should be worse than for what the painting was "worth" in $. If someone loses money, the rest of the world typically does not pay the price.
posted by dreamsign at 6:51 PM on April 28, 2005


Sorry.
posted by Peter H at 6:54 PM on April 28, 2005


Be aware that Dagbladet is a tabloid and their sources are a supposed classified police document and a source inside the criminal scene, ie. another criminal. I would classify this as a rumor. Let's hope it turns out to be just that.
posted by lazy-ville at 7:07 PM on April 28, 2005


.
posted by shmegegge at 7:09 PM on April 28, 2005


WTF is with people?

I've handled PR for museums. The thought of such a work being *incinerated* is dreadful.

My main degree is actually in music (English minor). One day in college, I left my violin in a classroom. I'd thought the room was going to be locked if everyone else left. But I returned shortly thereafter to find the room open, empty, and my case smashed in.

It wasn't a Strad or Amati. But boy, you want to know the personal heartbreak of seeing a "work of art" harmed? (Not to mention, my family wasn't exactly the richest in the world.)

As a labor of love a local fiddle repairer put it back together.

I think that's when it really hit me that there are really only two kinds of people in the world - creators and destroyers. Many of us fluctuate from one side to the other throughout our lives.
posted by NorthernLite at 7:21 PM on April 28, 2005


To expand this debate, if you made a painting, supposively out of great personal pain and grief, and it became (over time) an iconic piece of advertising for everything from desk calendars, cheap jokes and even inflatable punching bags, wouldn't you welcome its demise? I would. It's a powerful piece, but we've sucked all value out of it. I suspect Munch's relieved and will likely be given less shit by other artists around heaven's poker table.

it really hit me that there are really only two kinds of people in the world - creators and destroyers.

Northernlight, there are also exploiters and profiteers. ;)
posted by Peter H at 7:28 PM on April 28, 2005


That's the wisest damn thing I've read in days NorthernLite, especially the last bit.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:30 PM on April 28, 2005


What nmiell said. Yes, if it's true it's damned shame, but at least the best version is still preserved. Yay munch for duplicating his work.
posted by fvw at 7:30 PM on April 28, 2005


I appreciate art, and artists. But for an original piece such as this to be destroyed means absolutely nothing (except that a crime has been committed, and perpetrator should be punished, as with any other theft/vandalism/etc). Copies of this work of art -- and hundreds/thousands/more replicas -- are available in many venues, suitable for viewing by anyone.

I suppose the analogy might be if the original recording of, say, "White Christmas" was destroyed. That wouldn't -- or shouldn't -- prevent any of the millions of copies (album, cassette, CD, mp3, etc) of the song from being enjoyed by anyone.
posted by davidmsc at 7:36 PM on April 28, 2005


Would someone kindly explain what "." means? I'm not thick, but I don't get it.

Thanks.
posted by Chasuk at 7:41 PM on April 28, 2005


I suppose the analogy might be if the original recording of, say, "White Christmas" was destroyed.

I appreciate what you're getting at, but at this stage of visual reproductions, paintings are still quite different between original work and duplicate. If we were speaking of a photograph, you'd be right. But this is individual strokes of color laid onto a canvas or board by a particular man's hand. The duplicates are not the same.
posted by mdn at 7:41 PM on April 28, 2005


I think that's when it really hit me that there are really only two kinds of people in the world - creators and destroyers. Many of us fluctuate from one side to the other throughout our lives.

Northern light - you have truly defined people. Those on the side of life, light, abundance and those on the side of death, dark and scarcity. Call it what you like, all these mentalities can be placed under your apt divisor.

Thank you

As for the news,

*AAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH*
posted by infini at 7:45 PM on April 28, 2005


Would someone kindly explain what "." means? I'm not thick, but I don't get it.

Explained in the wiki.
posted by daninnj at 7:48 PM on April 28, 2005


The duplicates are not the same.
I remember standing in the National Gallery of Australia and gazing at Monet's Nymphéas. (the first time I had seen a well-known painting up close and personal) This is an image that I had seen probably hunderds of times previously in all sorts of formats, but the power that the original had over me was amazing. The duplicates are not only "not the same", they are not even close.
posted by dg at 8:03 PM on April 28, 2005


I agree with mdn, a painting is more than just an image. You'd be hard pressed to find a more artistically impoverished person than me, but I can certainly apprecate that. A photo doesn't capture the individual brush strokes and other visible signs that the painting is a work of art. (Emphasis on *work*, so you have a much better apprecation for how much effort it took.) That's not even talking about something like pointilism where an image can *never* capture the wow-ness of it. (Ferris Bueller notwithstanding.)

That's also a bit like saying "Who cares if we burn the constitution, it's not like it's not in every history textbook in the world." Cultural artifacts have value, one that helps keep history alive.
posted by absalom at 8:03 PM on April 28, 2005


"But for an original piece such as this to be destroyed means absolutely nothing..."

DavidMSC beat me to it. Darn.

You can destroy the original, but it's been replicated so many times that the original only holds value to those who seek it. I wouldn't pay ten cents for the original Mona Lisa, but I'd consider paying up to twenty bucks for an enlarged glossy framed reproduction that I could put up on my wall. ...Well, if I was into putting stuff up on my wall, which I'm not really, except for a real cool spray painted surreal landscape I saw a guy make one night in Deep Ellum. Think I paid twelve for that. It's my pride and joy. =)

Untold millions of dollars in worth? No piece of paper with scribblings on it is worth that much, after it's been copied. Not in my subjective perception of reality. People who spend fortunes on a Picasso are just plain crazy!

"It's just an object. It's not what you think." -River Tam, Firefly's Objects In Space
posted by ZachsMind at 8:08 PM on April 28, 2005


:O
posted by onlyconnect at 8:15 PM on April 28, 2005


You can destroy the original, but it's been replicated so many times that the original only holds value to those who seek it.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:08 PM CST on April 28


That's how I feel about naked women!, "Fuck em, there's so many photos!"
posted by Peter H at 8:20 PM on April 28, 2005


I appreciate art, and artists. But for an original piece such as this to be destroyed means absolutely nothing

Agreed, great art is often bastardized due to it's iconic value.

Nothing, however compares to the Pulp Fiction Briefcase-like feeling of being in the presence of the real thing.

I need to go to an art museum.

[seconds mdn]
posted by HyperBlue at 8:23 PM on April 28, 2005


Northernlite, I think there are people who fall in between--not talented enough to create, neither predisposed to destroy, but in a position to appreciate others' creations. Right now I'm listening to Chuck Berry's "Promised Land," and I know I could never write anything nearly as cool, but I'm not inclined to tear it down out of spite over that. ...I make a very good audience!
posted by kimota at 8:34 PM on April 28, 2005


Seeing a reproduction is in no way like seeing the real thing. Prints are flat, sterile, and shiny; a real painting has the artist's fingerprints on it, the odd abstract shapes left by the thick smears of paint, the dust and hair, signature that THEY scrawled in a corner. It's almost a living thing that they created, and physically viewing an original work brings you a bit closer to that artist.

And for the Munch works, if they were destroyed:

.
posted by cmyk at 8:36 PM on April 28, 2005


But for an original piece such as this to be destroyed means absolutely nothing.

Riiiight. Just tell that to all the people who patron museums. They could just as easily buy a picture book, and yet for some reason they travel to distant countries, stand in line for hours, just to crowd 8-deep around an original that's behind two feet of bullet-proof glass.

The Declaration of Independance has been reproduced to death, no particular heartbreak in seeing the original go, either... right?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:38 PM on April 28, 2005


If true, perhaps torture would be appropriate. Once the destroyers felt like the painting subject than it could stop

way to go off the deepend....were you in the pedo thread as well?
posted by peacay at 8:40 PM on April 28, 2005


The duplicates are not only "not the same", they are not even close.

I wholeheartedly agree. Me and the sig other are making a trip to Amsterdam shortly (she loves Van Gogh; I am attempting to convert her to Rembrandt) and let me tell you: you haven't seen the Nightwatch until it's actually looming over you. And I LOVE to approach (where possible) to see what's been done with the brushstrokes. Vermeer I'd only ever seen on postcards. The clarity of the originals is incredible. This can be powerful stuff.

But I returned shortly thereafter to find the room open, empty, and my case smashed in.

I am truly sorry -- but glad that it was given a new life. I think we've all known people who have demonstrated this, usually in small degrees (when we are watching, and we wonder what they do when we're not).
posted by dreamsign at 8:49 PM on April 28, 2005


Riiiight. Just tell that to all the people who patron museums. They could just as easily buy a picture book, and yet for some reason...

True -- although in my estimation a rather odd reason -- simply to say that they've seen "the original," regardless of how meaningless it truly is. For instance: I absolutely LOVE Frank Sinatra. His songs embody American pop, and his voice is matchless. I also very much enjoy seeing him act and dance in the wonderful films of the 40s and 50s. But I never went to see him in concert, nor would I do so now (if he still lived, duh). What would be the point? Via his musical recordings and films, I get to enjoy everything that I appreciate about him.

And re: the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence -- destroying the originals would be bad, in a historical context, perhaps, but wouldn't alter one bit what they represent, what they wrought, or the fact that we still abide by their wisdom and guidance.
posted by davidmsc at 8:50 PM on April 28, 2005


I'm with HyperBlue, mdn and absalom. Despite the promiscuity of the image (not the artist's fault, btw), destruction of the thing itself is still a loss.

I think Monet's "Waterlilies" is a disgustingly trite, homogenized, ubiquitized image. You can get it on posters, notecards, doormats, dishtowels, dog sweaters -- it's meaningless. Yet the orginal never fails to awe and fascinate me, time after time after time.
posted by vetiver at 9:00 PM on April 28, 2005


Now this I might support the death penalty for.
posted by orthogonality at 9:09 PM on April 28, 2005


vetiver: Monet's "Waterlilies" is a disgustingly trite, homogenized, ubiquitized image...Yet the orginal never fails to awe and fascinate me...

vetiver -- I just don't get it -- can you elaborate or somehow help me understand the distinction that you perceive?
posted by davidmsc at 9:14 PM on April 28, 2005


Walter Benjamin has written a suitable critique that fits this thread,Art in the age of mechanical reproduction
posted by hortense at 9:16 PM on April 28, 2005


NO YOU CANNOT REPLACE THE ORIGINAL!

It's an original, it is by definition irreplaceable. That someone would destroy something like this is horrific. That others could shrug and nonchalantly claim it no big loss because we have posters and pictures is just a terrible shame.

I used to think I knew what Degas , Van Gogh, and the ancients looked like, then I visited Paris and saw them for myself. Reproductions simply cannot compare to the beauty and brilliance of the originals.

Seeing the Venus or the Mona Lisa in person is just amazing. There are hardly words for how much grander and more beautiful the originals are.

Losing a classic like The Scream (or the recently in the news Amber Room) is something that can't just be shrugged off. Not if you truly appreciate art.
posted by oddman at 9:19 PM on April 28, 2005


It's about time somebody put that damned thing out of its misery.
posted by troutfishing at 9:20 PM on April 28, 2005


But I never went to see him in concert, nor would I do so now (if he still lived, duh). What would be the point?

Egads, man. Ever, on a tangential topic, noted the difference in decibels (if you had a metre handy) between a live performance and, what seems to be to your ear, an equally "loud" recording?

Should have spent the bucks and seen your man. Some acts are terrible live, but for those with the talent, it can be an awe-inspiring thing. You may as well tell me that there's no difference between listening to your Sinatra over a pair of old speakers as through a really nice pair of headphones. Well, ok, don't know about Sinatra. (in terms of musical complexity -- don't know how much you're not catching over open air)

I don't go to see originals to say I've seen them. I go to see if I notice anything different, or receive a different impression. I think going to see them so you can rub people's noses in it is as snide as saying that you don't need to see the original to know that there is no difference.
posted by dreamsign at 9:22 PM on April 28, 2005


I've seen this one in person (there are, or were, two in Oslo). There's something ineffable about being in the presence of a physical object created by another person that no amount of reproduction can diminish; indeed, the experience is enhanced. It's like the difference between a CD and a live performance.

On my college campus there are a number of Indian mounds. Many in the region have been ignorantly destroyed for farming or construction. They're fun to sit on (we'd even hold classes outside), but for me, every time, I'd feel a connection to the civilization that built them perhaps 1000 years ago.

This makes me angry, and indescribably sad as well, mainly because of the futility of stealing such a famous painting. This is immediately reminiscent of the priceless and unknown works dumped in a canal by the mother of a klepto art thief. It's also why many people were stunned at the bizarre scene in the new Thomas Crown Affair when the supposed art-lover played by Pierce Brosnan folds an irreplaceable Monet into a briefcase (although in the film, it remains somehow undamaged). Or the tragedy of the Amber Room. In this loss we are somehow all diminished.

I don't think this is something that only an æsthete can appreciate. It's about the reality of an object that was touched by another human being; it's about the inability of any method of reproduction yet invented to communicate detail beyond conscious perception to create an emotionally affective whole; cf. The Death of Dynamic Range.

That said, The Scream gets all the press; his cardboard Madonna was also stolen. [NSFW or I'd put it inline]
posted by dhartung at 9:26 PM on April 28, 2005


This may be moving a bit off subject, but the idea that recordings hold all the same value as live music is almost physically painful to hear. Perhaps they hold all the same value to you; if you don't find live music worth some cover charges now and then, don't go. But please don't claim that those of us do appreciate it are going simply to "say we've been there," or for other pretensions and empty reasons like that. In person, you can hear nuances of music that can never be captured on even the newest and best recording systems. If you're fortunate enough to see the artist up close, you can see their expressions up close and catch a glimpse of how they feel about their own performance. And unless you are fortunate enough to live in a concert hall or castle or something, you probably don't have the accoustics of a real music hall. I love listening to CD's and do so almost constantly, but they rarely bring me close to tears or send shivers up my spine the way that a live performance does.

I think original art is powerful in much the same way. There are some things that simply CANNOT be reproduced.
posted by emmling at 9:33 PM on April 28, 2005


Oh, and I want there to be a special circle of hell for the art thieves, where you get to chip pieces off of "art collectors" who paid for the removal and theft of pieces of Angkor Wat.

Heck, maybe I'll commit a few sins just so I get to be there to do the chipping.
posted by dreamsign at 9:47 PM on April 28, 2005


Civil_Disobedient: "They could just as easily buy a picture book, and yet for some reason they travel to distant countries, stand in line for hours, just to crowd 8-deep around an original that's behind two feet of bullet-proof glass."

What a waste of time and money!

Give me an amusement park over a museum any day of the week. Even if it's raining. Original copies of most films more than twenty years old need touching up. Most artwork could always use improvement. Any outrageous value you place upon original ..anythings is not intrinsic to the work itself, but subjective and impractical.

"The Declaration of Independance has been reproduced to death, no particular heartbreak in seeing the original go, either... right?"

For goodness sake, Civil_Disobedient! Thoreau didn't put absurd value on things. Don't you know what your chosen name, represents? Look at all that wasted energy, money and other resources spent in trying to keep the original Declaration of Independence from crumbling to dust, as if when it does, so goes the nation?! What utter crap. The words and their meanings are priceless. The paper and ink that comprise the original are worthless.

Commit just the first few lines to memory, and YOUR BRAIN becomes more valuable than a thousand copies of the original plus the original itself!

Same goes for trying to protect the American flag and keep 'it' from being burned publically. We should regularly burn flags that have been retired, as part of a public ritual celebrating what they represent. The value is not in the thing, but what the thing represents. Burning old ones only reinforces that fact, and diminishes any similar ritual that our foes might try.

The object is just matter, and all matter stems from energy, and it's going back to energy. It's how the universe recycles itself, and we're all a part of that Grand Design. Denying that by placing outrageous value on inorganic matter is silly. We do it every day, but it's still silly. Again, "It's just an object. It's not what you think."

Even so, the boneheads who allegedly stole and destroyed the artworks in question broke society's laws and should be tried and convicted. Of course. Justice should be served. We just shouldn't lose sight of the big picture. The death penalty for burning a Munch? Please! Now if they'd burned that poster of Farrah Fawcett circa the 1970s? Then of course we'd have to start a war!
posted by ZachsMind at 9:47 PM on April 28, 2005


Give me an amusement park over a museum any day of the week.

Exactly. Me, I don't like opera, so it's silly to put value on it. Except Wagner. Go ahead and put value on his stuff.

The thing that bothers me about the "reproduction/recording is just the same" attitude is something that should bother you, ZachsMind, but apparently doesn't. Because it's the same kind of attitude some people have to species of animals, forests, mountain ranges, and unspoiled lakes. It's just stuff. I can enjoy that stuff on tv, really, even if it takes special effects, so if there's an economic benefit to be had (and thus... more tv!) then bulldoze away.

Somehow I think the guy who goes both to museums and amusement parks is the richer.
posted by dreamsign at 9:54 PM on April 28, 2005


Connoisseur V. Consumer.
posted by HyperBlue at 10:08 PM on April 28, 2005


dreamsign I want a Daliesque Rollercoaster!
or a Bosch Haunted House
posted by HyperBlue at 10:12 PM on April 28, 2005


DreamSign, I DO go to museums, if its convenient. We have great museums in north Texas. I love the Kimball, and the DMA is quite an experience. Just saying I prefer creating my own history over fawning at relics from the past. Take what one can learn from it and move on.

There's a difference between organic life and inorganic life. I'm not saying we should kill all the grizzlies after taking a few pictures of 'em. Don't put words in my mouth.

Sure the video footage of Woodstock is no substitute for having actually been there. Anyone who was actually there will tell you that. Personally? I'm glad I didn't ever have to risk popping the bad pills that were going around at the time, or putting up with the heat and unpredictable weather. Great music, sure, but let's not glorify and prostrate ourselves at the foot of 'original' events or artifacts. Take them for what they are. Give them a realistic value and when the natural forces of the universe want them, quit trying to fight erosion and entropy. Let Mother Nature have her molecules back. She'll put'm in something new and better.

Sheesh! Nobody ever cries over the fate of a raindrop, do they? Yet rain has done more to benefit the food that fuels mankind than any Van Gogh ever has. Let's have a little perspective, is all I'm saying.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:15 PM on April 28, 2005


Let Mother Nature have her molecules back. She'll put'm in something new and better.

rain has done more to benefit the food that fuels mankind than any Van Gogh ever has. Let's have a little perspective, is all I'm saying.


Zach, are you serious? Not everything is to be measured in terms of molecular composition. Isn't that obvious?

Besides, you claim that what is important are the ideas that these things represent. You do realize that without the paintings, statues, declarations, and paraphenalia of human history and accomplishment we would have precious few ideas. These works which you so derisively call relics are often the very things that inspire contemporary people to achieve bolder and greater feats. Would you really want us to abdicate our history and our culture so easily? Mother nature can go grab some molecules for rain somewhere else. If we can maintain the Sistine Chapel or Seurat's Jatte for a thousand years, I would still feel badly for the children who were born too late to see them. If people throughout history had embodied the very same attitude you are currently espousing, there would be nothing to see in those museums in north Texas which you like so much.
posted by oddman at 11:02 PM on April 28, 2005


ZachsMind -- if your message is about not giving additional weight to things because they're old, then I'm right there with you. I have a somewhat unnatural loathing for the whole antique trade.

I make no pretense of knowing your views on nature. Rather, I am wary of the "recorded album is as good as a performance" argument because it smacks of the same kind of grizzly-photo-tourists who are happy enough so long as there is one last of its kind in the local zoo.

I mentioned that we were going to check out the Van Goghs and Rembrandts. Perhaps it will make clear my perspective when I say that I was *very* annoyed to hear many gallery-goers the last time I was there wandering around saying "yes, this is nice, but where are the Rembrandts? This while viewing paintings of his contemporaries with basically the same dark, rich style, and probably no less talent than an amateur like they or me could tell (they could have been looking at a Rembrandt and said the same thing). So instead of enjoying what was in front of them and appraising it on its own, they were famous-painting-browsing.

But that is a far cry from what others here seem to be saying, that any of these paintings would be just as good as a print on your wall -- or that modern artists must be as good and it's simply worship of the old or the famous. Sometimes there's a reason why these guys get famous. It certainly usually isn't because they had a brilliant publicist.

Hyperblue -- those would rock!
I wouldn't mind a Klimt-inspired gilded Balinese doorway. And who hasn't wanted a Fisher Price M.C. Escher Playhouse?
posted by dreamsign at 11:42 PM on April 28, 2005


It's not like the Declaration of Independence where most of the worth is in its message; its value is in its appearance, and in fact there is a slight benefit to having the picture itself available, the 3D viewing experience does contribute a little information and increases a sense of presence (easier to see the brushstrokes and how much various parts of the painting are layered). Until we have nanotech that can make a copy of the painting itself instead of just an image, to destroy the original loses data.

Once it's possible to make a true replica the issue of authenticity can be discussed (and I'm on the side that it's a worthless idea), but currently there's a not infinitesimal aesthetic advantage.
posted by abcde at 11:45 PM on April 28, 2005


I think the assertion made by several people in this thread that an original work is irreplaceable because of its physical topology, brush strokes and such misses the mark. I doubt most people could tell a forgery done by a technically competent artist working from the original from that of the original piece itself. Some would protest that they may lack this ability but surely their is some existent difference, however there have been forgeries that have been good enough to fool experts and make it onto museum walls. If the original is indistinguishable from a copy from where does its value arise. And make no mistake, even given the case of an indistinguishable copy people debase the copy as a cheap forgery and covet the original. I remember reading an article awhile back about a forger who was making copies of paintings and selling them to wealthy Japanese businessmen who had a voracious appetite for original art and then simultaneously selling the original in Europe or America. When this was discovered people were incensed. Surely in this instance their reasons cannot be aesthetic. I posit that in such cases the implicit rational for preferring the original is a transcendent idealism. There is a sense of the mystical transcendence; that the original is an embodiment of the platonic form of the piece that the artist through his creativity, will and talent conjured from the ether. The piece has value because it is a physical manifestation of the artists efforts and is directly linked to that ethereal artwork. The original is thus imbued with not just the specific geometry of the work but with all of the authority, and authorship of the artist, and is a small piece of the greatness that is the man. In such reasoning there is an apotheosis of the creative artist as a divinely creative force. People view a work as valuable not because of its representational form but because it is part of an artist's oeuvre. The value of the work is derived not from the piece itself but secondarily from all of the artists other pieces and tertiary from the artists magic touch. There is a strange tautological reasoning at work here because the artists is ostensibly respected for a specific work(s) and the particular work(s) are simultaneously valuable because of the artist. Respect for authenticity is further based on intentionality, the idea that a work was formed first in the mind of the artist and only latter committed to a medium, a forgery would lack that intentionality because it would be a copy of a copy. With otherwise identical pieces how does one determine which is the original? The one that was made first of course. Obviously only the prior one was the result of the divine creative process, the other did not partake of this. All of these various ideas about the transcendent nature of art as independent of circumstance and physical process were attacked aggressively by artists such as Warhol and Dali who would churn out identical copies of their own woks and sign blank sheets of paper so that anyone could create a Dali or Warhol. They were subverting the idea that a piece derives its value from whose name is in the corner. All of these valuations: intentionality, transcendent idealism, artistic genius, the mysticism of the creative process, are long out of vogue with artists and critics alike but they still seem to be lurking quitely beneath our aesthetic appreciation. Whether they are justifiable or mere superstitious nonsense is beyond my ability to answer but I feel that this is indeed the tacit psychology behind prizing of the original.
posted by Endymion at 12:01 AM on April 29, 2005


I don't think some of you are looking at this quite the right way.

The argument that a copy can have the same impact as the original depends on a couple of things.

A copy of the original can have the same potential impact, for everyone, if it is indistinguishable from the original. A glossy photo of Madonna is not the same thing--but what if you had a copy so perfect you couldn't tell the difference? That's not the case with this kind of art--a sound recording is a fundamentally different medium than a painting, or a sculpture...

The rest of the argument is moot.
We have robust copies of "White Christmas", so the loss of the original wouldn't be the biggest problem.

And as sort of a footnote: A recording of music is not necessarily a poor facsimile of a concert. They're heavily correlated, but a recording can be good or bad for all sorts of reasons, not just the ones that apply only to the original event. Besides davidmc: maybe you'd find more to like if you saw Sinatra live?
posted by hototogisu at 12:03 AM on April 29, 2005


can you elaborate or somehow help me understand the distinction that you perceive?

Well...as others have said, the qualities of the original piece very often don't translate well to photographs (offset printing, screen resolution, whatever). I was pretty indifferent to it myself until seeing a few things in person:

*The Rothko Room in the Tate Gallery. At the time I was there, the room was full of these giant paintings done in shades of red. What made (makes?) it fascinating rather than boring? The size, of course, and that there were so many of them, but also the sort of...almost a luminous quality you get by thinly layering oil paints. I imagine there's a similar effect at the Rothko Chapel, in Houston.

*Bernini's sculpture at the Villa Borghese. This picture of Apollo and Daphne is admittedly bad, but it's only walking around the thing when you realize just how many ridiculously realistic leaves there are, and how close together they are, and how they're so thin that they're almost translucent. Or the folds in his drape--! Of course this is marble...that it was accomplished at all, much less with that kind of grace/skill/eye for detail, is a bit overwhelming. Oh! For another example, check out this close-up of Pluto and Prosperina.

*Michelangelo's David. Cliche, I know, but this one lived up to the hype (and a good thing, too, since that was pretty much the only thing that museum had going for it). The guy's head at the bottom of the picture gives you an idea of the scale of it--just massive (detail). Words kind of fail me on this, actually. Moving on...

Actually, that's all I can think of for now. Dalle de verre glass work is also something I'd say you really need to see in person, but that's more of a random observation. The mosaic replicas of paintings in St. Peter's are pretty wild, too--it took a while before I realized that they were mosaics.
There's just something about standing in front of a piece, then moving up close to stick your nose right in so you can see the brushstrokes, then stand back and take it all in--you're seeing it as the artist would have seen it. I dunno, maybe it's just me.

In summary: everyone should go see art. Also, I think someone should send Zombie Joseph Beuys after the art thieves. It's only fitting.

[/too many years of art schoolin']

(On preview: uh, what Endymion said, I think. My art mojo is pretty much shot for now.
posted by Vervain at 1:19 AM on April 29, 2005


Yeah everyone should go see art - especially those who think it's okay that sometimes it gets destroyed because we have posters and fridge magnets of it. Works of art are historical artifacts - not just the flat image on the front of the canvas.
posted by fire&wings at 3:05 AM on April 29, 2005


much ado about nothing.
posted by hypersloth at 3:15 AM on April 29, 2005


love's labor's lost.
posted by ori at 5:17 AM on April 29, 2005


What Endymion and abcde said (though they may be in disagreement).
posted by Bugbread at 6:25 AM on April 29, 2005


You can destroy the original, but it's been replicated so many times that the original only holds value to those who seek it.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:08 PM CST on April 28


well, I might not have been specifically seeking it, but after seeing Munch's pieces in Oslo, I walked away with much more respect for his stuff. The size of them is something that might not come across in postcard facsimiles. So lowering the ceiling of potential appreciation might just have some unfathomable impacts, no?
posted by Busithoth at 6:58 AM on April 29, 2005


.


nothing lasts forever
posted by Diamornte at 8:00 AM on April 29, 2005


For me, the difference actually seeing a great work has on me is quite similar to the difference between watching a roller coaster and actually riding one.

The size of them is something that might not come across in postcard facsimiles.
This is probably one of the first things many people experience when confronted with the originals for the first time. The size of the things. Some of them large enough to fill your field of vision, drawing you into that world.

The real, human contact with the artist that one can feel when viewing the original works is something so many seem to discount (or outright belittle). Yet, it is often this very aspect of a truly great work of art that makes it a valuable piece of our heritage. For some, I suppose, it's simply easier to close oneself off to those experiences. I would find that a horribly cold, indifferent world to live in, myself. Different strokes, I suppose.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:48 AM on April 29, 2005


One step closer to a world where hands to the face means not Munch but Macauley.
posted by NickDouglas at 6:36 PM PST on April 28 [!]

Connoisseur V. Consumer.
posted by HyperBlue at 10:08 PM PST on April 28 [!]


I probably would have agreed that a copy was sufficient until I saw the paint sticking out of the canvas of a rare Van Gogh. I realized there wasn't the head-on perspective only, that being able to look at it from bizarre angles was just as important to "getting" it.
posted by petebest at 8:53 AM on April 29, 2005


endymion, I think there are a few different elements that are all pertinent when we're speaking of painting.

1-There's the historical element. This is analogously true for the Declaration of Independence, etc. Human beings are conscious of our historical journey; to a certain not insignificant extent, this is what makes us human. Really. Having the narrative, the story, the biography, accomplishing things, remembering things, all of this differentiates us from simply being biological animals. We're biographical animals. So, seeing the original is seeing something that was created by the hands of a particular person, who had a particular impact on the course of things. It is exhilarating to think that this object was not only in the presence of but actually created by a mind you so admire.

2-The aesthetic element: individual beauty. painting reproductions do not capture the detail and particularity of the originals. A facsimile of the declaration of independence might be aesthetically worth about the same, but the detail and skill of most great paintings has not be reproduced. Most copies are photographs or paint-by-numbers copies. Those kinds of reproductions don't appreciate the genius of the original, which is not in a 'pretty composition' but is a fluid and sometimes practically ineffable interplay of various dynamics. Even people who attempt to copy masters may not catch exactly what it is that makes these pieces work - texture, color, stroke, subtle things can make enormous difference in the overall effect, and even the artist may not be fully conscious of what's making it work.

Together these almost produce more than the sum of their parts. Take van gogh, who I also have always loved: his paintings are meaningful not just because of pretty colors or swirly skies; there is something about the thickness and chaos of the brush strokes, combined with the detail of a particular place. It brings an experience to you; it is a genuine world.

all that said, I do appreciate the notion that we oughtn't idolize our creations, that the ideas remain and are available to us with or without the material results, that nature itself is grand and gorgeous enough without our two-bit attempts to capture it, or respond to it appropriately. There's a middle road, I think. It is sad that someone would want to destroy art, but let's not concede that anything's actually been destroyed. It has and it hasn't.
posted by mdn at 9:12 AM on April 29, 2005


And how 'bout those blasted Buddhas in Afghanistan? A whole set of different yet related arguments relate to their absence in the world, as well as debates about various proposals for their reconstruction.
posted by kozad at 10:01 AM on April 29, 2005


That's how I feel about naked women!, "Fuck em

ideally, yes.
posted by mr.marx at 10:32 AM on April 29, 2005


.
posted by AspectRatio at 11:20 AM on April 29, 2005


maybe you'd find more to like if you saw Sinatra live?

If I saw Sinatra live, I'd be like...


Because he died in 1998. Zombie Sinatra would be hella scary.
posted by kindall at 11:53 AM on April 29, 2005


Thoreau didn't put absurd value on things. Don't you know what your chosen name, represents?

So wait. Should I just follow what he suggests blindly, then? Turn off my brain? Oh, ok. See, I thought that historical artifacts give us historical perspective (just the way our brains are wired, I'm afraid). But in this wonderful digital age we live in, the keyboard is just as good as the pen, real art better than a facsimile, and TV just as good as real life... if not better.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2005


Dali's work didn't have much of an effect on me until I chanced upon the Dali Museum in Florida. After seeing some of the masterworks up close, I was amazed. I now have posters of two of them (Velazquez Painting the Infanta Margarita and the Hallucinogenic Toreador (apologies for incorrect spelling)) framed in my office. I don't doubt that original Munsches (Munschkins?) would have the same effect on me.
posted by Snowflake at 4:28 PM on April 29, 2005


real art better than a facsimile

Doh. Reverse those and that sentence construction makes more sense.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:19 PM on April 29, 2005


LOL, onlyconnect, LOL.
posted by NortonDC at 8:21 PM on May 11, 2005


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