malraux: patterns across the universe

…As the chief curator and guide of the Imaginary Museum, Malraux recalls Toynbee and Spengler. For one thing, he shared their infatuation with the past, their conviction it can speak to us, that stones have tongues. For another, he shared their mental habit of imposing patterns on the universe. He too, was obsessed with the contemporaneity of everything. As Toynbee could compare certain aspects of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom to the modern American Middle West, Malraux gloried in placing a Buddhist statue of 500 B.C. alongside a late medieval crucifix.

—When André Malraux put forward the idea of a Museum Without Walls as French Culture Minister, he was probably unaware that he was talking about a concept that would lay the groundwork for the Google Art Project. Today, reproduction and the museum in art history and the collective memory is a topic of lively debate among prominent philosophers, sociologists and art historians. Malraux did not realize that reproduction, beyond eliminating the uniqueness of a work of art, would one day be able to substantiate, even constitute, its authenticity.—Read More:

As Malraux wrote in La Metamorphose: “The art worlds hitherto known to mankind were exclusive, like religious; our art world is an Olympus where all the gods, all the civilizations, address themselves to all men who understand the language of art.”

From the heights of that Olympus, Malraux observed the works of man and produced La Metamorphose, a personal confession of aesthetic faith,which by virtue of its style and its poetic vision, comes close to being itself a work of art.


(see link at end)…Following Heinrich Wölfflin, Daniel Henry Kahnweiler and Walter Benjamin, the former French minister of culture and education, André Malraux, effectively formulated some of the consequences of this transformation in his book «Les Voix du Silence» (1951). His description of the field opened by photographic reproductions became widely known as the ‹imaginary museum.› Malraux’s museum is imaginary because it is not bound to a particular location: Photographic reproduction not only «forces

one to examine all of the world’s possibilities of expression …» —such as the museum—it goes even beyond the museum, as it can also contain works of art that are bound to (unalterable) architecture—such as, for instance, frescoes. In addition, art connoisseurs had had to travel about in order to compare the works—a comparison of the picture and one’s recollection of it, which, according to Malraux, caused a «certain zone of uncertainty.» In contrast, an abundance of color reproductions of most major works are available to students today.Read More:

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