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Frame of Reference

What does it mean, in 2013, to photograph — to reproduce — a painting? Does it, as Walter Benjamin wrote in his 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” drain the painting of an essential “aura,” even as it makes the image itself accessible to a much larger audience? Does it, as John Berger elaborated in his 1972 book and television program, Ways of Seeing, alter the painting’s meaning, rendering the original a symbol of capitalist exchange? Or, in today’s image-sharing world of Tumblr, is reproduction nothing more than whimsical statement of affinity, of a […]

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