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Walter Benjamin talks about the pros and cons of the use of art
reproductions in a 1936 essay titled "The Work of Art in the Age of
Mechanical Reproduction." In it, he suggests that photography
(and lithography) has allowed reproduction of art to bloom so that
everyone may now take part in the art world. However, he argues
at length about the ill effects that photographic reproduction has
had upon perceptions of art including the loss of the "aura" of a
painting when one views a copy. I include this article in a selection
of readings for my art ed students...I recommend it to others interested
in this subject.
There has been some comments regarding the problems that children
have distinguishing between the reproduction and an original work of
art. Some adults also have this problem. I'm reminded of a
elementary ed major enrolled in my methods class one year who asked
how I was able to obtain the Van Gogh Sunflower painting I was showing
in class since it was just recently purchased at an auction. I was
surprised at her question to say the least. Since then I have always
made the point with my students that we are using prints/copies
in class and that they need to go to a museum to see the real thing.
University of Florida