an original of a copy

But, then is not the artist themselves, whether man or woman, merely a “copy” an “imitation” even a forgery of the original’ the original first, man and women, of which after the Fall have lot their original aura, their sense of  context, their initial sparkling originality deteriorating into the mundane and the hack. Speaking, in a visual art, of a copy of a copy of a copy whose initial impact has been lost, the original coded language forever, or nearly forever lost in the mists of time, among competing contexts now polluted and impure. What really is the value of the “original” then except in a sense of Veblen economics to confer status and distinction upon the owner, in which art becomes an extension of the species of money , estheticized equity as Kuspit has asserted, part of the larger demand to manifest conspicuous waste, the pursuit of the intrinsically valueless, and the effort to say quantify the so-called Kandinsky-esque spiritual in art as equivalent to the monetized value of religion. …

---Alfred Lessing claims that the Vermeer forgery Christ and the Disciples at Emmaus by Van Meegeren is a work of beauty. “The matter of genuineness versus forgery is but another non-aesthetic standard of judgement,” he says. He relegates the painting’s non-aesthetic authenticity to the same level as other non-aesthetic criteria, such as “biography” and “history of art,” etc. Read more at Suite101: Art Criticism: Originality, Forgery and Aesthetics |

Jennifer Jenkins:Some philosophers and writers on art have wanted to say that there is no real difference in aesthetic value between a forgery and a genuine work of art. But although a forgery has certain qualities that make it different from a genuine art work this does not necessarily entail that it contains more or less aesthetic value. Or that there is a distinction between an art work and a forgery that involves the notions of creativity and originality. I hope to show that these qualities are lacking in forgeries and to explore what difference this could possibly make to the aesthetic value of art works….

Gough:We must agree with Koestler and Lessing in as far as that what is aesthetically valuable is contained in the perceptual appearance of works of art: Catherine's line-drawing should not look any more aesthetically valuable in light of the knowledge about its origin alone; a perceptually exactly similar forgery is just as aesthetically valuable as the original. Read More:

…Alfred Lessing makes the claim that it is only the fact that the forgery lacks a certain kind of originality that makes any difference at all between a fake and a genuine work of art. Even then this will not necessarily be the case. Any distinction of aesthetic value between identical works is seen by him as snobbery. This kind of originality which is lacking in a forgery is against the “spirit of art” and is what makes a forgery lack integrity….

So, there is a collision between artistic terms and aesthetic terms with the wild-card pull of the aesthetic towards economics as a preponderant influence. A society that calls Steve Jobs an artsit and a poet because of design principle which goes back to the Socrates argument about finding the original chair, the first chair, as if Jobs possessed some divine intuition that reconstructed long lost elements of the first chair into a i-pod. Or, its something like the Max Sterner theory of “voluntary egoism” driving economics with morality, in this case artistic integrity being merely window dressing, an artificial concept.

Freud once asserted that there were similarities between jokes and works of art in his study of Michelangelo’s Moses. Picasso once said that every good work of art is a kind of joke, and Diego Rivera agreed, saying, ” art may not be a joke, but it is like one.” meaning the concept of originality and artistic merit is founded on shaky ground, since it simply connects old and established elements in a new way. Its the same old world in a new package, the new-old world, and the viewer does not really know why it seems “shocking.”

Dutton:My response began by appealing to an imagined experience: the acute sense of deflation and disappointment you’d feel if you learned that a dazzling virtuoso piano recording you’d much admired had in fact been faked, speeded up electronically. From this I built up a general view of art as necessarily involving performance and achievement. I still think I was right, but my argument contained an embarrassing hole. It depended on a deep and impressive psychological effect – a shock, a sense even of betrayal. But I had no way to explain the existence of this effect. At least one writer, Leonard B. Meyer, had treated the admiration of technique as a contingent cultural construct – as though we could envision a culture where practiced skill was not admired. This seemed implausible. The admiration of high technique, of feats of virtuosity, is a cross-cultural, universal value. It infects not only the arts, but potentially all human activity, e.g., sporting activities everywhere. Read More:

…Arthur Koestler gives an example of a lady called Catherine who hangs a Picasso print on her staircase, but when she finds out it is a genuine Picasso line drawing and not a print she then hangs it in her drawing room. She is confused Koestler says, because although her definitions of what counts as aesthetically important are the usual qualities such as colour, form and line, the fact that she has displayed her picture where it can now be seen more easily indicates this is done from snobbery. But Catherine’s defence of this is simply that now she knows it is a Picasso, she says she sees it differently, although the colour, line and form have not actually changed. Koestler cannot understand how this can be so. How can she see it differently when in fact it “looks” exactly the same? …

Gough:There is an alternative solution, which avoids total capitulation to Koestler and Lessing's position. That is to distinguish the aesthetically valuable from the artistically valuable. This would involve adopting a position inspired by Timothy Binkley that the concept of the aesthetic, embodying all matters perceptual, is logically distinct from the concept of art. For instance, a sunset is often viewed as possessing aesthetically pleasing aspects without being treated as an artwork. Read More:

…According to Koestler, Catherine is confused because she mixes up what she thinks are aesthetically important characteristics, colour, shape and form, with the status and prestige of the artist. That is characteristics that are intrinsic to the work are confused with characteristics that come from outside the work. So Koestler thinks that when Catherine says she views it differently, because the things she counts as aesthetic questions, colour, form, line etc., have not

ged it must be something else that has changed her mind: ie the external characteristics the status of the artist. I will try to show that although Catherine is confused, she is perfectly entitled to feel as she does without being labelled a snob. Read More:


Writers such as Roland Barthes have disputed the fact that external properties are important at all. But most people when looking at Van Gogh’s “Wheatfield with Crows” would recognize that his being close to suicide when he painted it is important to their understanding of the work of art itself.

Because Catherine’s feelings change once she knows something which Koestler calls extrinsic to the art work itself, he thinks that this cannot and should not affect her sense of its aesthetic value. But why not? Well in a way he has a point. The apparent properties of a painting can on their own give aesthetic value, whereas the extrinsic properties no matter how many of them, cannot give aesthetic value by themselves. However, they can determine the way we perceive an art-work. It seems that the distinction between intrinsic and external properties as made by Lessing and Koestler is too clear cut, too distinct. Read More:

…Perhaps I just don’t care that an art work is a forgery or perhaps I do care but still find it pleasing or beautiful. But this does not leave me, like Lessing, subordinating originality to aesthetic value, where the quest for originality is but a means to an end. I can accept and appreciate it for what it is: a forgery or a mimicry of a style of an original which still allows its aesthetic qualities to have values of their own.. ( ibid.)
Arthur Koestler, in demonstrating the intrinsic value of pure aesthetics, uses as an example the forgeries of the Gothic wall paintings by Lothar Malskat, who was hired by Dietrich Fey to restore the Lubeck frescoes in 1948. He supplemented them with paintings of his own, subsequently provoking a counterfeit scandal. When the forgeries were discovered, the paintings ceased to be valuable. Koestler asks: “…whether the Lubeck saints are less beautiful… because they had been painted by Herr Malskat and not by somebody else.” The key point of Koestler’s argument is: “…the principal mark of genius is not perfection, but originality, the opening of new frontiers; once this is done, the conquered territory becomes common property.” Read More:



Related Posts

This entry was posted in Art History/Antiquity/Anthropology, Feature Article, Ideas/Opinion, Modern Arts/Craft and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>