April 2nd, 2004

Paintings vs. Reproductions

I have been looking at a lot of famous paintings in the last week. I have seen them before in artbooks, or on the web, but not in person, in actual paint. As a rule, I have found paintings are more impressive in the original. Still, a great deal of the esthetic effect does come across in good reproductions.

There is an interesting bias agains reproductions, and it appears in artwork that gets hung in business offices. Here is how it works. A simple reproduction will not get hung in an office. That is a mere reproduction, and in bad taste accordingly. But the following is acceptable, and you see it a lot: a reproduction of a POSTER advertising an art show (usually long since over) which happens to prominently feature a good reproduction of a painting.

You see, the poster was 'meant to be reproduced,' so it is okay to reproduce it, and it announces itself as not the real painting, since it's just an add.

To me, this has the strong whiff of silly legalism, a quirky workaround of the bias against reproductions.

Anyway, I don't mind having reproductions (among other things) on the walls at my house. Anyone who takes a good look at them can TELL they are not original.

Rhyme of the day:

Photos of great art
Are a fine place to start.

I do want to add, in prose again, that a good photo of a great painting carries a lot more esthetic power than an original mediocre painting.