By removing artwork from the quiet, contemplative context of the museum gallery through electronic and mechanical duplication, it inevitably becomes more accessible. I see people who would not likely have had access to artwork finding it readily available, but lacking the necessary skills of critique and background in art history to effectively understand and analyze the work. This seemingly causes frustration and in conjunction with its relative ease of access becomes easy to “write off” as unimportant. The work’s residence in a museum or gallery at least suggests cultural importance when understanding fails. While I feel that artwork belongs to everyone to experience it, I also think it requires some pre-requisite skills that are currently in short supply. At the same time, I feel as though I need to take a long look at my own art history education, based on what Berger describes in his analysis of the Hals masterwork. Much of my own experience with works of art entails the description of the techniques and composition and a brief history of the artist and movement by an art historian. Based on Berger’s words, and my experience with the few works I have seen in person, I agree that reducing the work to color choice and composition is missing the point entirely.
I did have a bit of trouble with Berger’s assertion that an art elite curates artwork to either degrade and fracture it’s meaning through reproduction and dissemination or create importance through financial value. I am having difficulty visualizing a single, unified, dark force in the art world composed of art critics, rich investors and politicians and hope that I have drawn an incorrect conclusion at this point.
In my own work, I don’t presume to think I can protect anything from changing context, but instead hope that I can design for durability and by researching user needs and environments, predict situations in which my work may exist.