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Konsthistorisk tidskrift/Journal of Art History


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The Repressive Logic of a Profession? On the Use of Reproductions in Art History


Hans Dam Christensen
a a

Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark, Birketinget 6, DK-2300, Kbenhavn S, Denmark Available online: 20 Nov 2010

To cite this article: Hans Dam Christensen (2010): The Repressive Logic of a Profession? On the Use of Reproductions in Art History, Konsthistorisk tidskrift/Journal of Art History, 79:4, 200-215 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00233609.2010.509550

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The Repressive Logic of a Profession? On the Use of Reproductions in Art History


Hans Dam Christensen

of Art History, the art object is present only through representations. Art historians do see a lot of works of art, but when speaking, writing and reading about art and art history, that is, the standard routines for scholars and students, the works of art are absent more often than not. Does it make a difference to scholarship whether the subject of analysis is the original work of art or its reproduction? Three cases will be used to discuss this difference from a historiographical point of view. The first case concerns Winckelmann and his use of reproductions, the next case the colour problem of Art History, and the third case two art historians partly different reflections on the use of reproductions during the founding of Art History as a modern academic discipline. Is the artwork the research object of the discipline of Art History today? Or is it possible to imagine the artwork lined up with other distinguishing characteristics that simultaneously constitute the research object of Art History? Or even replace it? By the end of the eighteenth century, the artwork apparently legitimized Art History as an upcoming scholarly profession. It became the empirical basis for connoisseurship, stylistic analysis, the histories of art, and iconology. But considering todays multilayered discourses and practices of the profession, can anyone then, without prejudice, claim that the artwork is the
IN MOST DISCOURSES

superior research object? For example, current research often touches upon discourses in which the artwork takes only a peripheral or secondary place, e.g. discourses on the history and methods of art history and art criticism, philosophy of art, museology, design theory, visual culture, art education, and sociology of art. If the artwork is the research object, these otherwise significant discourses are obviously marginal to the real Art History wherever this is to be found. In this article the implicit framing of such a kind of superior Art History is an effect of what will be termed with a deliberated psychoanalytic hint the repressive logic of Art History. It is a logic which at the same time privileges the presence of the art object and represses the dislocation of it. Even if it was to be found, this real Art History and all the other art historical discourses take place within or in relation to in a general sense the art history system: for example university courses, network meetings and conferences, study rooms, archives and libraries, academic journals and books, mass media, certain parts of the internet etc. Roughly speaking, knowledge on art and the history of art is produced, distributed and stored in this system. Taken as a whole, the real objects in museums and university collections play only minor roles because the artwork more often than not is mediated by some kind of reproduction in the

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#Taylor & Francis 2010 ISSN 0023-3609

KONSTHISTORISK TIDSKRIFT 2010, VOL 79, NO 4 DOI: 10.1080/00233609.2010.509550

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aforementioned knowledge circuit. Thus, another reason for questioning the status of the artwork is the use of reproductions. Today, the predominant modes are digital images and slides, photographs and photographic prints. In earlier days, autographic prints, namely reproductive engravings and lithographs, as well as plaster casts, represented the artwork; not to mention that in the premature days of the profession the art historian normally possessed some drawing skills as a means to record the artwork. All the same, connoisseurship, stylistic analysis and so on only became promising because of the increasing flow of photographic prints.1 That is to say, besides all the discourses in which the artwork takes only a peripheral or secondary place, the primary historical and aesthetic research object of classic Art History may be the reproduction of the artwork. It may at least have been so since the photographic turn in the second part of the nineteenth century. Or, rather, the reproductive photographs may have helped in constructing a research object that art historians mistakenly take to be the works of art when it in fact is the discursive grid we perceive them through. In other words, this article argues for an understanding where the art objects out there (in museums and exhibitions, in private collections and homes, in the auction rooms, in the public sphere and so on) primarily are represented by a variety of reproductions in the art historical knowledge system. Art historians mainly know the history of art through visual and verbal representations. And this is so despite the fact that the discourses and practices of Art History, as a rule, seem to repress this dislocation of the artwork. The reproductions add to this repression because the proliferation of photographic prints on the one hand contributed to the university

status of the profession from the 18 80 s1 89 0 s onwards. On the other hand, this photographic turn displaced the art objects from their privileged position at least theoretically speaking, since the question is whether they have ever possessed such a position. It is pertinent to dwell on this point. Strictly speaking, the implied argument in this article is simple: In most discourses of Art History, the art object is present only through representations. Art historians do see a lot of works of art, but when speaking, writing and reading about art and art history, that is, the standard routines for scholars and students, the works of art are absent more often than not. The crucial point is that, if these matters are not thoroughly reflected, art historians are not aware if it makes a difference to scholarship whether the subject of analysis is the original work of art or its reproduction. They do not know whether certain aspects of or around the object are ignored, over-exposed, decontextualized, wrongly contextualized and so on. The problem could also be epitomized this way: Even for an art historian with high moral standards ( that is, a scholar who would not consider publishing a historical analysis on a work of art that he or she had not encountered in physical presence ( it is impossible not to read and speak about other works of art that this scholar never will have the chance of witnessing. Whatever the accumulated number of works of art seen in situ by the senior art historian and, moreover, despite the importance of visiting collections, churches and so on (which is stressed over and over again throughout teaching as part of the repressive logic), the fact is that the majority of artworks are not known through immediate or firsthand knowledge. Further, it is probably a common experience that the burning desire of art for the upcoming art historian or art

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student is enhanced by reproductions; students primarily know their treasures through visual allusions. And in contrast with the aforementioned importance of the physical encounter, students are trained to write papers on absent artworks during their scholarly socialization. This is an aspect of repressive logic, too. Basically, it is tempting to assert that this repression is caused by the agency of the artwork: on the one side, it constituted and endorsed the foundation of an autonomous profession; on the other, future art historians have always been moved by the love of and desire for art in advance of their disciplinary socialization. In either case, the artworks appear too precious to be dismissed thereafter. This dislocation of the authentic object is not painstakingly reflected in art historical discourses at least not in comparison with some art historians who experienced the photographic turn in the second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century but it is imperative to reflect on it, especially in these times when debates on the presence of the object are returning. At least according to Keith Moxey in a recent published article in the Journal of Visual Culture, where a prominent gathering of scholars in philosophy, visual studies, art history, science studies and anthropology is attributed a particular sensitivity to the aura of the object and the immediacy of its location in space and time.2 Yet, discussions on the use of reproductive prints have emerged. In recent times, visual communication studies has produced several large works on historiographical aspects of the use of reproductions, e.g. Estelle Jussims Visual Communication and the Graphical Arts (1 9 7 3 ) and in more recent times Dan Karlholms Art of Illusion. The Representation

of Art History in Nineteenth-Century Germany and Beyond (2 00 4 ) and Stephen Banns Parallel Lines. Printmakers, Painters and Photographers (2 00 1) should also be mentioned together with Susan Lamberts The Image Multiplied. Five Centuries of Printed Reproductions of Paintings and Drawings (1 9 8 7 ), Art History through the Camera Lens (1 9 9 5 ) edited by Helene E. Roberts, as well as, at least partly, Barbara E. Savedoff s Transforming the Images. How Photography Complicates the Picture (20 0 0). In comparison with earlier phases in the history of the discipline, and in contrast with todays abundance of reproductions, the steps forward in discussing present-day reproductive techniques and methods are, however, limited. As a historical case in point, one can point to the respected German art historian Paul Kristeller. In his article, Uber Reproduktionen von Kunstwerken, published in 1 9 0 8, the sceptical Kristeller was very aware of advantages and disadvantages with regard to types and media of artworks as well as modern reproductive techniques.3 Another case in point could be a handful of articles, published in College Art Journal during the 1 9 4 0 s and 5 0s, on the use of up-to-date reproductions, that is, photographic colour plates.4 Further examples will follow. Books or articles on the art historians use of current digital reproductions, which also include the scholars own photographic recordings and future possibilities for using digital images in studying art history, are, however, nearly absent from methodological and theoretical debates.5 Thus, another symptom of the historical and disciplinary success of the repressive logic may be the loss of critiques of reproductions, as can be found in earlier accounts. Apparently, this symptom is followed by recurring debates on the presence

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of the object, which seem to take the physical encounter for granted. The call for a more critical debate is obviously caused by the aforementioned development of image technology, in particular the implosion of digital imagery and digital distribution of images, which has created an enormous virtual archive of reproductions. Furthermore, in mass culture there is a fixed tradition for rendering and paraphrasing fine art, a tradition that art museums eagerly mirror when so-called masterpieces are printed on postcards and posters as well as on wine bottles, jewellery, magnet sets, calendars, puzzles, rulers, playing cards etc. Counter to copyright strictures and intellectual property status, images from the past and today are whirling around in printed copies as well as digital copies. It is indeed becoming more and more difficult to experience an increasing number of art objects for the first time. One has, so to speak, seen them all before. Despite the above-mentioned plea for a more critical discussion on current usage of digital reproductions, this article is not going to address this issue further, because the guiding question is: Has there ever been a different situation? Obviously, the question is not referring to the number of reproductions, but to the immediacy or, rather, the lack of such immediacy of the artwork. Even before todays digital culture and modern mass culture, the majority of art objects were not within easy reach of the individual art historian. In past times, art objects were displaced by reproductions as well. In addition, they were not easily accessible in either collections, or out-of-the-way churches, among other things due to a restricted public sphere as well as difficult and slow travel; mass tourism was yet to come. However, the

essential difference between then and now is that there often seemed to be a better awareness of the distinction between the original work of art and its reproduction, or, at least, the difference was addressed not ignored or repressed. In the following the article is going to focus on the early heydays of art history in order to embrace this awareness. It is not going to be an overview. Three snapshots are presented in more or less chronological order: the first case discusses Winckelmann and his reflections on reproductions; the second case is on the art historical problem of colour, which became crucial in the use of black-and-white photographic prints; and the third and closing case is on different experiences of the reproduction versus the work of art in situ. This will be through the optics of two art historians, the Dane Julius Lange (18 38 1 8 9 6 ) and the German Max J. Friedlander (1 8 6 7 1 9 5 8 ), who at two different stages experienced the development of photographic reproductive techniques during the second part of the nineteenth century. Other cases could be mentioned. So, the conclusions of the article are not going to be all-embracing. The overarching point is first and foremost to question how art historians know the history of art. And so far the answer is: for the most part through reproductions, which might be a problem if the distinction between the original work of art and its reproduction is not properly clarified. Previously, this distinction did matter, at least according to the three cases that follow. Case one: Virtual Antiquity Why not start with the beginning in a double sense? This is, according to common accounts, the genesis of Art History as a

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discipline, which is recognized as Johann Joachim Winckelmanns writings, as well as the birth of the history of art, that is, Antiquity, in particular Classical Greek Art. It is common knowledge that the history of art is primarily erected on Roman and later copies of Greek art. Even though one of the endeavours of European cast collections and the shipping of architectural ruins by the end of the eighteenth century, at least from a critical standpoint, was to overshadow the differences between copy and original, it is nevertheless difficult to find originals from the once highly praised Classical Antiquity. But is the pretentious discipline of Art History founded on copies too? Yes, and even representations in a broad sense that include written representations, at least if one focuses on the torch bearer of art history: Winckelmann and his foundational essay on aesthetics, Gedanken u ber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerey und Bildhauerkunst, published in 1 7 5 5 , prior to his stay in Rome. The celebrated appraisal of Laocoon ( that the sculpture epitomizes edle Einfalt und stille Grosse ( originates in this essay. Paradoxically, the title says it all: Gedanken uber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke (that is, On the Imitation of the Greeks). Of course, Winckelmanns essay is first and foremost on his contemporaries revitalization of Greek art, but, as Alex Potts observes in one of his few references to Gedanken u ber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in his book Flesh and the Ideal. Winckelmann and the Origin of Art History (1 9 9 4 ): In Dresden he was taken up by the court artist, Adam Friedrich Oeser, to whom he dedicated his first publication, the polemical essay On the Imitation of the Greeks, a passionate call to

imitate a Greek ideal whose sensuous male beauty he knew only at several removes in the form of engravings, casts, and verbal descriptions.6 (Emphasis added) Potts does not elaborate on this distanced knowledge of Antiquity, but he does note Winckelmanns different perceptions of Laocoon before and after his arrival in Rome, e.g. in his Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums, published nine years after the aforementioned Gedanken u ber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke. Among other things, he again notes that the earlier account was written before he [Winckelmann] had actually seen the Laocoon.7 Perhaps Potts refers to the smooth transition in the expression of beauty which in the early version declares that (d)ie Ausdruck einer so grossen Seele gehet weit uber die Bildung der schoenen natur,8 whereas the later version, in greater detail, states that wohin der grosste Schmerz geleget ist, zeigt sich auch die grosste Schonheit.9 In fact, there is evidence that Winckelmann visited the kurfu rstliche painting collection back in Dredsen, the major city near his hometown Darmstadt, but there is no evidence that he ever saw the sculpture collection which included some Greek copies, although not Laocoon, or, for that matter, Apollo of the Belvedere. If he ever saw the collection, it was probably just before he left for Rome. As a German scholar summarized it in an article from 1 9 77 : Winckelmann hat die Sammlung nur fluchtig, vielleicht nur einmal, aber jedenfalls erst in der letzen Phase seiner Dresdener Epoche gesehen, er hat sie kaum gekannt.1 0 Winckelmann worked as a librarian and Potts earlier mentioned verbal descriptions included for instance Plinys Natural History and Philostratus Imagines, which despite

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their differences are both to put it mildly very vague with regard to sizes, colours, descriptions, materials, styles, places and so on of the artworks mentioned. Furthermore, representations in the form of gems, coins, jewellery, vases etc. contributed to Winckelmanns reception of Antiquity as well.1 1 Nonetheless, Winckelmann could probably have gained the best knowledge of the physical appearance of Laocoon by way of reproductive line engravings. If one is familiar with William Ivinss series of Laocoon prints from the period 1 5 2 0 1 8 9 0 in his famous Prints and Visual Communication (1 9 5 4 ), one also knows that this is not an indisputable visual knowledge. Ivins admits that a certain family resemblance could be accepted, but, as he continues: Had they represented butterflies instead of a known single statue, one would have said that they represented different families of the genus Laocoonidae.1 2 In Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums Winckelmann is much clearer on his sources as well as in his critique of reproductions. In the preface, Winckelmann follows Ivins as he rails against the inaccuracies and errors found in reproductive engravings of former books on his subject, e.g. misinterpretations in iconography, simple errors in the renderings, poor artistic quality etc. He overtly writes that Ich habe alles, was ich zum Beweis angefuh ret habe, selbst und vielmal gesehen, und betrachten konnen, so wohl Gemalde und Statuen, als geschnittene Steine und Munzen. His own use of reproductions in Geschichte der Kunst des Altertums is meant to be an assistance to the reader, as he goes on: um aber der Vorstelleung des Lesers zu Hilfe zu kommen, habe ich sowohl Steine, als Munzen, welche ertraglich im Kupfer gestochen sind, aus Buchern zugleich mit angefurhet.1 3

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In summary, the central point is that it apparently did make a difference for Winckelmann to see Laocoon in a three-dimensional marble version in Rome rather than in printed copies in Darmstadt. Winckelmanns popular early writings, which formed part of the wideranging bourgeois reception of Antiquity and thus contributed to miscellaneous Classicisms and Neo-classicisms as well as political philosophy and sciences in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, were generated, more or less, through a virtual Antiquity. Further, it is worth noting that his use of reproductions in a broad sense was an unavoidable necessity, which he acknowledged but, if possible, at the same time wanted to avoid. Case two: the colour problem of Art History The increasing use of reproductive photographs had a distinctive influence on the development of Art History. Some voices claim that its university status was dependent on photographic prints.1 4 Viewed from a critical angle, they contributed to the construction of a disciplinary apparatus that professional art historians learned to master, in contrast with laymen. The scholars gained access to libraries, archives and so on as well as having access to the proper image technology. In Denmark Statens kunsthistoriske fotografisamling (The State Collection of Art Historical Photographs), which was entirely devoted to the history of art, was founded in 1 9 1 8, but the centre of the collection was photographs collected by professors at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts since the birth of photography. From a less critical standpoint, it is sufficient to say that the increasing flow of prints made the research object more visible.

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In a letter to a friend back in 1 8 7 8, Julius Lange, who was to become the leading Danish art historian in the last decades of the nineteenth century, commented on the experimentation with colour photography: . . . they seem very remarkable although they are far from perfect. However, for the next breed of art historians this child [that is, current colour photography] will have enormous impact when it is possible to have Titians and Correggios colours in your case and just open it to look at them instead of visiting all the European galleries . . . .1 5 Seen from the point of view of posterity, it is easy to conclude that Lange was too optimistic; for example, colour slides were not really available until the end of the 1 9 3 0 s, although colour in photographic prints had been known since the 1 8 6 0 s. But colour, or rather the lack of colour in photographic prints, was an important issue for art historical scholars almost from the beginning. Obviously, the photographic prints communicated important information about the artworks, but colours were absent, and shades and tonalities could be spoiled according to the photographic process, e.g. the limited spectral sensitivity of the photographic medium. In this perspective, the naming of colours was a recurring matter at international congresses of Art History in the beginning of the twentieth century, that is, simultaneously with the expansion of photographic archives at art historical departments and so on. For the most part, the debates centred on the possibility of a common international standard for colour plates. Conversely, at the congress in Munich in 1 9 0 9, the German art historian Wilhelm Waetzoldt introduced Kallebs patentiertes Farbenapparat, which was a technical approach to the identification of colours. It is not important to explain the device in detail.

Suffice it to state that, according to Waetzoldt, the device potentially included 8000 nuances of colour because of the possible arrangement of the four concentric discs. They were respectively red, yellow, blue and grey divided into different shades. For example, a pure brown should be named 4 -9 -1, because, according to the theory, it consisted of 4 /10 of red, 9 /10 of yellow and 1/1 0 of blue.1 6 Counter to the long-established norms for colour terms, which are still dependent on connotations, cultural customs and linguistic differences, Waetzoldts proposal would have launched a rather technical terminology, but at the same time a terminology that was related to the scientific languages in another places. And Waetzoldt was not a cynical technocrat. On the contrary, he demonstrated the opposite in the article Das theoretische und praktische Problem der Farbenbenennung, published the same year in Zeitschrift fu r Asthetik und allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft;1 7 this article was an extended version of his arguments at the conference. It demonstrates that Waetzoldt, a student of Wilhelm Dilthey, was also inspired by current phenomenological thoughts. This last source was, for example, expressed in his careful distinctions between colour observation, colour experience and colour naming when viewing leaves on a tree: In remembrance, Waetzoldt explained, we probably re-experience them as green, although a consciousness observation will determine the colours of the leaves according to the amount of daylight, the wind, the location on the tree, not to mention the time of year and so on. That is to say, leaves have an abundance of colours. Nonetheless, they are experienced as and named green. A simplification of the same kind is, according to Waetzoldt, present in the colour terminology of Art History. The number of

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Fig. 1. An illustration of Kallebs patentiertes Farbenapparat from the proceedings of the IX. international conference on the history of art in Munich September 16 21, 1909 (Ofzieller Bericht uber die Verhandlungen des IX. Internationalen Kunsthistorichen Kongresses in Munchen 16. bis 21. September 1909, Leipzig 1911). Photocredit/copyright: Hans Dam Christensen.

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actual colour terms does not match the quantity of colours that the human eye can discriminate between. Further, apart from the first letter (e.g. red, rot, rouge, blue, bleu, blau) the words for the same colour in different languages are hardly ever related. This is among other things caused by the linguistic use of prefixes and such like, which for Waetzoldt exemplifies the way language is controlling the picture instead of describing essential qualities of the actual colour. Moreover, as with terms for musical and tactile experiences, the designating terms might

often be considered as mere impressionistic designations. Waetzoldts article was aiming at a pragmatic solution to an otherwise irresolvable problem. The author had a semiotic awareness that term and colour were not essentially linked, but at least the technical device offered a solution that was independent of an impressionistic naming as well as observation and, not least, current image reproduction technology. He was also aware that, for instance, Impressionist art or other artworks with merged colour graduation could not be

Fig. 2. The frontispiece of Rudolf Broby-Johansens Kunstordbog (Glossary of Art), published in 1965. The alphanumerics combine color term and color. The other half of the color circle is placed at the back. Photo credit/ copyright: Hans Dam Christensen.

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designated adequately, but at least the device offered a step ahead in comparison with existing modes of colour plates. The problem of colour plates, which Waetzoldt opposed, can be illustrated by the popular Danish Kunstordbog (Glossary of art), published in 1 9 6 5 by the older Rudolf BrobyJohansen.1 8 According to Broby-Johansen, the human eye can discriminate between 20 0 ,00 0 nuances of colour. This amount goes far beyond the potential 8000 numbers in Kallebs patentiertes Farbenapparat. Yet, this potential number exceeds his own 1 4 5 more or less poetic, more or less applied terms listed on the front and back cover of the Kunstordbog. Here, there is a correspondence between the number and letters on the colour circle plates and the list of terms. The illustration is scanned from the original 1 9 6 5 version of Broby-Johansens publication, and, ironically, the terms are consistent, whereas the colour circle is just a vague impression of the original colouring. On the other hand, Broby-Johansens terms are not consistent in comparison with competing colour terminologies. And further, how many art historians are capable of using 1 4 5 colour terms? If it is possible to find such scholars, one cannot be sure that they can communicate with each other, partly because they probably belong to a scattered group, partly because their respective 1 4 5 terms need not be overlapping. In overlapping cases, one cannot even be sure that the terms refer to identical colours. These and related circumstances could easily complicate the debates at conferences around 19 00 as well. From a present-day perspective, Kallebs patentiertes Farbenapparat was perhaps an odd suggestion. But a century ago it pointed to the problem of what was not to be seen or named in reproductive black-and-white

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photographs. In fact, one can pose the same question today: What is not to be seen or named in our up-to-date high-resolution images? Art historians are, for example, still short of terms for the substance of painting: the different kinds of hues, brushstrokes, dots, marks, traces, materiality, visual tactility, and so on. The lack of such terminology does not at all have to be decisive in every analysis, and many art historians and other image researchers probably have a visual knowledge that they do not need to put into words. But the lack of reflections on the significance of the difference between the original work of art and its reproduction as well as the naming of its parts point to another problem: Art historians do not know if or when it makes a difference. And in the midst of the virtual archive of digital reproductions the potential distinctions seem to fade away. Case three: Lange and Friedlander on the use of photography According to the Danish writer, Georg Brandes, photographic prints had a crucial impact on the young Julius Lange. In his book on Lange from 1 8 9 8 , Brandes mentions how the two, as students around 1 8 6 0, spent a lot of time together viewing reproductions: In part, we constantly visited art collections, in part we investigated copperplates together, and last but not least the discovery of photography and its usefulness in rendering artworks instantiated an abundance of the finest architectural as well as other masterworks for us. What an impression it made when reproductions of the finest painters pictures could be acquired for just a small amount of money. Honestly speaking, the impression was more than overwhelming for two young art lovers situated in an isolated Northern city. Lange used to say

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about some of the reproductions of the finest works of art that he could hardly stay in his room because of the blast they caused in his imagination.1 9 Contrary to Benjamins legendary loss of aura in The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction (1 9 3 6), mechanical reproductions apparently advanced the impression of artworks in the early days. However, in several of his publications the older Lange does express, directly as well as indirectly, an awareness of the difference between the original work of art and its reproduction. In 1 8 7 2 , Langes Danish translation of Wilhelm Lubkes Grundriss der Kunstgeschichte (18 60 ) was published;2 0 he rewrote several passages and he expanded the general overview of Nordic art. In the introductory remarks to the second edition from 188 1, Lange regrets that, for the time being, he has still not had the chance to make extended journeys to the Nordic countries. Consequently, he goes on, his writings on Nordic art should not be perceived as an independent scholarly work. Nonetheless, this lack of physical encounter with many of the Nordic artworks is parallel to the lack of presence in front of the great number of artworks illustrating Lubkes publication. In fact, the 5 2 4 illustrations are not photographic prints, but autographic prints, that is, examples of lithography, half-tone prints and so on. A decade later, Lange emphasizes in the introductory remarks to his principal scholarly work, Billedkunstens Fremstilling af Menneskeskikkelsen i dens ldste Periode indtil Hjdepunktet af den grske Kunst (The Representation of the Human Figure in the Visual Arts from Ancient Times until the Zenith of Greek Art, 1 8 9 2 ), that he: . . . had had fine opportunities to make studies, and more often than not recurring studies, in

almost all the great art collections in Europe, even those on the fringe, that is in St. Petersburg, Madrid and Athens. Furthermore, Ive had the chance, and the best of my mission, to make lots of mostly short trips to countries just outside Denmark.2 1 Just before this paragraph, Lange explains the necessity of travelling because his approach is the comparative method. In the optic of this article, this makes it even more difficult not to imagine that he also used these photographic prints, which, according to Georg Brandes, meant so much for the upcoming art historian. Incidentally, the older Julius Lange was once photographed as he was studying a photographic print with his magnifying glass. The picture is probably staged, but demonstrates nonetheless the characteristic approach to the photographic print. The detective looking at the print through the magnifying glass helped the art historian to reveal the secrets of the artwork. During the Second World War, the exiled Max Jacob Friedlander published his art historical memoirs.2 2 Friedlander, who was one of the most prominent connoisseurs of the early Nederlandish and German painting, gathered his disciplinary experiences in a book entitled On Art and Connoisseurship (1 9 4 4 ). In the chapter On the Use of Photography, he observed: The very fact of possessing a photographic reproduction or the certainty of being able to obtain one reduces the interest which is devoted to the original. One should picture oneself how the lover of art must have felt when he found himself face to face at Castelfranco with Giorigones altarpiece, at a time when no photographs of it existed, and when he looked upon this first contact with the picture, as maybe also the last one. How his emotion must have increased receptiveness!2 3

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Fig. 3. The Danish art historian, Julius Lange, studies a reproduction. (Detail) Unknown photographer. Copyright: The Royal Library.

Just about 5 0 years after the passionate Julius Lange praised the new image reproduction technology, Friedlander is expressing his divergent attitude. Whereas Lange seemed to overlook the importance of place, space and time, Friedlander points to its significance in the experience of the artwork. As an echo of Benjamins aura, he finds that mechanical

reproduction destroys the presence of the artwork. Benjamins text was published for the first time in a French version in 1 9 3 6 , and among other things one can read that Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be . . . .

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Presumably, Friedlander imagines an art lover who knows Giorgiones altarpiece through readings and line engravings or other pre-photographic techniques. As mentioned before, it is difficult not to know, presently, the history of art through reproductions. Thus, a certain meaning in his paragraphs may pass by unnoticed: at a time when no photographs of it existed, and when he looked upon this first contact with the picture, as maybe also the last one [emphasis added]. The experience of the work of art is not just intensified by the expectations prior to the encounter. The physical encounter is also intensified by the fact that it might be the last time the art lover is present before the authentic work of art. Probably, modern onlookers hardly ever carry this awareness to the encounter. Travel possibilities not to mention reproductive image technologies have improved quite a lot since. At present, one perhaps forgets when one encountered certain works of art for the first time. Art historians know them in advance through reproductions and memorize them through reproductions. The author of this article has to admit that when looking at reproductions or reading art historical literature it is sometime difficult to remember whether he has actually seen certain artworks or not. Peoples individual and shared image archives are larger than ever, but it is wrong to assume that they have encountered more artworks in corporeal presence. The next reproduction is always within reach. Conclusion It is important to stress that this article is not complaining about the use of reproductive photographs, but the lack of reflections on this

use. In fact, reproductive image technology can improve both knowledge of the history of art and the experience of the artwork. In the post-photographic museums in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was not unusual to use photographic reproductions jointly with authentic art objects, plaster copies and the like if it helped to improve the taste of the audience. In a recent article, Rise and Fall of the Post-photographic Museum: Technology and the Transformation of Art, Peter Walsh observes: When originals were unavailable or too costly, photographs, plaster casts, and other reproductions made entirely satisfactory substitutes. Typically, the South Kensington Museum [soon renamed the Victoria & Albert Museum] exhibited all four together photographs, casts, copies, and originals in the public galleries.2 4 In order to develop and communicate knowledge of art and culture, the use of reproductions will improve purpose. Several works of art might even be experienced a lot better through digital media than in physical presence. As a case in point one may draw attention to Leonardos famous Mona Lisa (15 030 6 ). As is well known, Leonardos painting is safely behind glass in the Louvre. It is a small picture, and, in addition, it may be rather difficult to come in close contact with the painting due to many other concurrent visitors. However, by way of the National Research Council of Canadas Picture Perfect Science project, the Mona Lisa may be seen day and night, at least on the internet. The website, Mona Lisa. A Scientific Examination, offers high-resolution versions of the picture in existing colours as well as the original colors. Further, an in-depth image, a craquelure pattern, a shaded image, and contour

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map as well as an infrared and X-ray view can be seen. And last but not least, even three images of the rear of the painting (colour, colour levels and shades) are to be seen on the website.2 5 Would it matter if the painting disappeared for a second time?2 6 This may sound provocative, but the repressive logic of Art History is a heavy burden for the tradition of the discipline. The profession has developed a complex discursive system in order to veil the dislocation of the art object. As already mentioned, when a particular sensitivity to the aura of the object and the immediacy of its location in space and time are reintroduced in Visual Studies without considering the multiplied discursive representations of the object, it seems necessary to point to the situated preunderstandings of this debate and the significance of reproductions in the knowledge of the history of art. Or is this article simply making much ado about nothing? The three cases do at least illustrate the opposite in a historical context: Winckelmann did change his perception of Laocoon according to the modes of reproduc tion he came across, and he did show awareness of the inaccuracies in reproductive image technology; next, the use of black-and-white photographs pointed to a crucial lack of colours in the reproductions, which were so imperative for the maturity of Art History as a modern research discipline; and third, Lange was fascinated by mechanical photographic reproductions, but he also demonstrated awareness of the necessity of the physical encounter with the artworks, as did Friedlander, who pointed to an aspect of the experience of the artwork which seems to be forgotten in the midst of the virtual image archive: Does one ever see a work of art

for the last time? And when did one see it for the first time? Other choices could have been chosen in this article, for example a discussion of the use of reproductions in Aby Warburgs Bilderatlas or a discussion of Heinrich Wofflins articles on Wie man Skulpturen aufnehmen sollen (1 8 9 6 9 7 ), perhaps supplemented by his thoughts on using engravings instead of photographs as media for the illustrations in his Kunstgeschichtliche Grundbegriffe (19 32).2 7 Or a discussion on his use of double slide projection by means of the sciopticon as an early precursor of the slide projector. Another, perhaps lesser known choice could have been the proposal for a cooperative Negativzentrale at the International Congress of Art Historians in Darmstadt in 1 9 07 . It was supposed to make the ordering of photographic prints easier and more scientific feasible.2 8 It seems that the photographic companies, since the opening of the Alinari Brothers firm in 1852 , often had other interests than those of art historians; these interests were, of course, the growing number of tourists. A closer case that demonstrates the negligence between the reproduction and the work of art could have been the French author and Secretary of Culture Andre Malrauxs ideas of e imaginaire from the mid-twentieth a muse century. Eventually, this could be taken together with the UNESCO projects on colour reproductions of masterworks as well as travelling exhibitions in the period 1 9 4 9 81 , which pursued Malrauxs ideas of a museum without walls in order to popularize art and by this means to elevate democracy and human values.2 9 In line with this case, an investigation of the American art historian Arthur Kingsley Porters (188 3 1 9 3 3) legacy

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of 4 0 ,00 0 photographic reproductions donated to the Department of Fine Arts at Harvard University could have been another option; paradoxically, Porter did see quite a lot of artworks (countless of them through his own camera lens), and, according to Kathryn Brush, he probably encountered more objects than many of his European colleagues, who were limited by national conflicts and animosities.3 0 But to the future students at Harvard, he left a photographic archive which to a very large extent surpassed the number of artworks in the art collection of the university. This case might also have included use of a variety of reproductions of the same work of art by another American art historian, the connoisseur Bernhard Berenson. Considering todays abundance of digital images, it is pertinent to rethink the use of reproductions in current Art History and Visual Studies, and, further, to reflect on the difference between representation and art object (or differance in a Derridean sense, as it seems that there is (not) a difference). Is the debate on the presence of the object that Keith Moxey points to in fact a linguistic return, so to speak, because it is dependent on linguistic exercises? Hence, is the postulated presence of the object becoming a dangerous supplement to the visual turn, because it apparently ignores (or represses) the multiplied discursive representations of the object?

would like to thank the participants who made comments.


Endnotes
1. See e.g. Trevor Fawcett, Visual Facts and the NineteenthCentury Art Lecture, Art History, Vol 6, No 4, 19 83, pp. 4 4 24 6 0, and Fawcett, Graphic versus Photographic in the Nineteenth-Century Reproduction, Art History, Vol. 9 , No. 2 , 1 9 86, pp. 185 2 1 2 . 2 . See Keith Moxey, Visual Studies and the Iconic Turn, Journal of Visual Culture, Vol. 7 , No. 2 , 20 08, pp. 13 11 4 6. 3. Paul Kristeller, Uber Reproduktionen von Kunstwerken, Repertorium fu Kunstwissenschaft r Band XXXI, 1 9 08, 540. 4 . See Philip C. Beam, The Color Slide Controversy College Art Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 , 1 9 4 3, pp. 353 8; James M. Carpenter, The Limitations of Color Slides, College Art Journal, Vol. 1 , No. 2 , 1 9 4 3, pp. 38 4 1; Thomas S. Folds, A Critique of Color Reproductions, College Art Journal, Vol. 8, No. 2 , 1 9 4 81 9 4 9 , pp. 85 9 4 ; John McAndrew, The Non-Imaginary Museum, College Art Journal,Vol. 14 , No. 2 , 1955 , pp. 1 2 4 13 4 . 5. One important exception at the crossroads between theoretical and methodological reections and digital images in Art History is, partly, William Vaughan, Computer Application for Art History, which is the last chapter (!) in M. A. Cheetham, M. A. Holly and K. Moxey (eds.), The Subjects of Art History. Historical Objects in Contemporary Perspectives, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1 9 9 8 , pp. 30 8327 . It is, however, easy to nd articles on educational aspects as well as copyright issues, e.g. Mary Ann Stankiewicz, A Picture Age: Reproductions in Picture Study, Studies in Art Education, Vol. 2 6, No. 2 , 1985, pp. 86 9 2 ; Christine L. Sundt, Testing the Limits: The CONFU Digital-Images and Multimedia Guidelines and Their Consequences for Libraries and Educators, Journal of the American Society for Information Science, Vol. 1 4 , No. 50, 1 9 9 9 , pp. 1 3 2 81 336 ; Gretchen Wagner, Sharing Visual Arts Images for Educational Use: Finding a New Angle of Repose, Educause Review, Vol. 4 2 , No. 6 , 2007 , pp. 84 1 05. 6. Alex Potts, Flesh and the Ideal. Winckelmann and the Origin of Art History, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1 9 9 4 , p. 16.

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Acknowledgements This article is an earlier version of a paper presented at the research network meeting Visions of the Past: Images as Historical Sources and the History of Art History (supported by NordForsk), Pyhtaa, Suomi, 11 14 September 2 00 8 (Organizers: Sigrid Lien, Hans Hayden and Renja Suominen-Kokkonen). The author

7. Potts, 1 9 9 4 , p. 138 . 8. Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Gedanken u ber die Nachahmung der griechischen Werke in der Malerey und Bildhauerkunst, Dresden and Leipzig, 1 7 56 (175 5), p. 2 2. 9 . Johann Joachim Winckelmann, Geschichte der Kunst des Alterthums, Dresden, 1 76 4 , p. 349 . 10. Heiner Protzmann: Die Herkulanerinnen und Winckelmann, Die Dresdener Antiken und Winckelmann, eds Konrad Zimmermann, Berlin, Akademie-Verlag, 1 9 7 7, p. 36 .

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11. See Konrad Zimmermann, Die Dresdener Antiken und Winckelmann and Protzmann, Die Herkulanerinnen und Winckelmann, both in Die Dresdener Antiken und Winckelmann. 12 . William M. Ivins, Jr., Prints and Visual Communication, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1 9 5 3, p. 8 9 . 13 . Winckelmann, 1764 , p. XXI. 14 . See e.g. Ivins, 1953 , p. 1 4 6 , p. 1 7 7. 15 . Letter to A.C. Larsen 6 October 18 78, in Breve fra Julius Lange, ed. P. Kbke, Det Nordiske Forlag, Copenhagen, 1902 . 16 . Wilhelm Waetzoldt, Vorschlage zur Farbenterminolo gie, Ofzieller Bericht u ber die Verhandlungen des IX. Internationalen Kunsthistorichen Kongresses in Mu nchen 16 . bis 21 . September 1909 , Leipzig, 1911, pp. 100109 .

Aby Warburg. Der Bilderatlas MNEMOSYNE, ed. M. Warnke, Akademie-Verlag, Berlin, 2000 ; Heinrich Wolfin, Wie man Skulpturen aufnehmen soll (I), Zeitschrift fu bildende Kunst, Vol. 1, No. 7 , 1 8 9 6, and r (II), No. 8, 1 8 9 7 . 2 8. See Begrundung einer Negativzentrale, Ofzieller Bericht u ber die Verhandlungen des VII. Internationalen Kunsthistorischen Kongresses in Darmstadt 23 .26 . September 1907 , Leipzig, 1 9 0 7, pp. 9 6ff. 2 9 . See Fredrik Hakansson, Unesco, Malraux och ombildningens museum. Estetik och kosmopolitik i Efterkrigstid [electronic source] Magisteruppsats, Sodertorns Hogskola, 20 07, pp. 19 6. http://sh.diva portal.org/smash/record.jsf?pid0diva2 :153 32 . 30 . Kathryn Brush, Arthur Kingsley Porter and the Transatlantic Shaping of Art History, ca. 1 9 1 01930 , The Shaping of Art History in Finland: Taidehistoriallisia Tutkimuksia/Konsthistoriska Studier 36, Helsinki, 2007 .

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17 . Waetzoldt, Das theoretische und praktische Problem der Farbenbenennung, Zeitschrift fu Asthetik und r allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft Band IV, 1909 . 18. See R. Broby-Johansen, Kunstordbog, Gyldendals Tranehandbger, Copenhagen, 1 9 6 5. In a Danish context, Broby-Johansen was a renowned, very popular communicator of art who often supplemented his writings and talks with a socialist critique of bourgeois society; he was an early version of John Berger, so to speak. 19 . Georg Brandes, Julius Lange, Copenhagen, 1 8 9 8, p. 6. 2 0. Wilhelm Lubke, Kunsthistorien fremstillet i dens Hoved trk. Bearbeidet med srligt Hensyn til Kunsten i Norden af Jul. Lange, Copenhagen, 18 72 . 2 1. Lange, Billedkunstens Fremstilling af Menneskeskikkelsen i dens ldste Periode indtil Hjdepunktet af den grske Kunst. Studier i de fra Perioden efterladte Kunstvrker, Vidensk.Selsk.Skr., 5 , Rkke, historisk og philosophisk Afd. 5. B. IV., Copenhagen 1 89 2 , pp. 18 3f. 2 2 . In an earlier version this section was presented in Hans Dam Christensen, Nedslag i visualitetens kultivering. Om kunsthistorie, visuel kultur og racisme, Konsthistorisk tidskrift, Vol. 71, No. 3 , pp. 1 4 4 1 4 5 . 2 3. Max J. Friedlander, On Art and Conoisseurship, Bruno Cassirer, London, 1 9 4 2 , p. 1 9 7. 2 4 . Peter Walsh, Rise and Fall of the Post-photographic Museum: Technology and the Transformation of Art, Theorizing Digital Cultural heritage. A Critical Discourse, eds F. Cameron and S. Kenderdine, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA 2007 , p. 2 5. 2 5. http://imi.proteus.cisti.nrc.ca/multimedia/picture/infor mation/nrc-iit_mona_e.html 2 6. See Hans Belting, Das Unsichtbare Meisterwerk. Die modernen Mythen der Kunst, C.H. Back, Munchen, 1 9 9 8, pp. 3103 32 . 2 7. For an introduction, see e.g. Charlotte Schoell-Glass, Serious Issues: The Last Plates of Warburgs Picture Atlas Mnemosyne, in R. Woodeld (ed.), Art History as Cultural History: Warburgs Project, G'B Arts, 20 01;

Summary In the discourses of Art History, the art objects are primarily present through representations. Art historians do see an abundance of works of art, but when they write and read about art and the history of art, the works of art are absent more often than not in fact, the majority of these objects will without doubt only appear as reproductions in books and journals as well as slides in auditoriums. Knowledge on art and the history of art is produced, disseminated and storaged in the art history system: libraries, university courses, conferences, archives, study rooms etc. Does it make a difference to scholarship whether the subject of analysis is the original work of art or its reproduction? Three cases discuss this difference from a historiographical point of view. Hans Dam Christensen Dean of Research Royal School of Library and Information Science, Denmark Birketinget 6 DK-2 3 0 0 Kbenhavn S Denmark E-mail: hdc@db.dk