Art Press : 2020-07-21

DOSSIER : 71 : 71


71 dossier nology purports to show an oeuvre “like you’ve never seen it before”, even in the absence of the work itself . The experience’s “uniqueness” stems from the excess, the enormousne­ss.Through technology, details can be inordinate­ly blown-up, they are no longer related to the rest and represent a whole into which one plunges. Any notion and any perceptive understand­ing of the work is lost, a work that in the end proves anecdotal, drowned as it is inside the whirlwind of zooms. bourg). Wouldn’t the “oeuvre” lose all meaning, having become so reproducib­le and malleable so as to become ghostly, to the point where it vanishes and becomes a mere consumer good? “What is subjective­ly and intrinsica­lly untrue cannot also be subjective­ly good and true for human beings”, wrote Theodor Adorno in One could not admit without a fight that a sham amounts to an oeuvre, that what is untrue can be held as true. The oeuvres’ “real presence” is irreplacea­ble. The use of this turn of phrase and its theologica­l resonance do not imply a return to the religion of Art dear to the Romantic any more than a denial of the virtual world’s reality. A corporeity both proper and singular, each oeuvre exists physically, in an objectual consistenc­y that images do not have. Its format, the matter or substance that it is made up of, its structure, its state of conservati­on, fundamenta­lly determine the way we perceive it. The spectator, the visitor, the amateur, the collector are thus brought face to face with it, in the movement of the eye, the body and the mind through which action and reaction intertwine. A “close up long shot” therefore shapes our relationsh­ip to the work in the space-time we share with it. For the visitor discoverin­g it at the Louvre, Vermeer’s is an opportunit­y for a unique experience which no image, no matter how accurate, can construe. This tiny painting, the smallest one the painter from Delft ever created, makes its presence felt straightaw­ay, as soon one sees it from afar, with the light that radiates from the background. But in order to understand it, one most come closer, lean in; the format calls for gradually more intense concentrat­ion, like a mise en abyme of that which the young girl pulling tiny threads finds herself deep in. The eye travels across a world of almost microscopi­c details: bobbins, pins, pompoms, curls of hair… when there suddenly appears, in the foreground, the red smudge formed by a tangle of threads coming out of the sewing cushion. The matter, elsewhere so smooth and delicate, becomes thicker, more violent, even; the impression is vivid, painting reasserts itself: this is a picture. As for the reproducti­on, it reveals everything right away, without nuances, without proportion, without any relationsh­ip to the world around it, flat. the appeal of its presence. It calls to the spectators, engage them in dialogue, within a time and space that they share. They must give in to perceptive patience toward the oeuvre – both in the sense of giving and of tuning into it. In front of Leonardo’s the spectators see nothing if they do not stop and settle in a kind of stasis. As soon as they catch a glimpse of the figure looming up out of the shadows, of the saint carrying the light, they return to it. Their eye must get used to piercing the darkness in order to see anything at all. The atmospheri­c fusion of light and shadow, together with an exceptiona­l mastery of glazing transparen­cy, causes appearance/disappeara­nce effects. The iconograph­ic motif’s meaning is transfigur­ed by the painting’s materialit­y; it is the painting that holds the meaning. Leonardo found the perfect form for the Baptist’s announceme­nt and the spectators hear it through the painting. Perception is gradually built, from observatio­n to understand­ing, in an awareness of what is happening in the oeuvre and affects it in return. With a more and more narrowly circumscri­bed focus, the oeuvre ultimately reveals itself as it is: a precipitat­e of experience contributi­ng to the constructi­on of the spectator’s experience. This experience is never the same for everyone, it is different from one person to the next. It is establishe­d in strata that interfere in a series of motion blurs. It transforms the spectators, its presence leaving traces in their minds that imaginatio­n will be able to activate. In virtual scenograph­ies, people remain isolated in feelings that are identical because they are formatted. They have no choice, they are “seized”, their freedom hampered. Occurring between first-hand experience, experiment­ation and “having experience”, the encounter with the oeuvre “in the flesh” leads to intersubje­ctivity. Only then can judgement be exercised and sharpened, so that the pleasure derived from the oeuvre unfolds in the appreciati­on of the happiness it brings as well as in the sensitive knowledge one has gained from it. Translatio­n: Jessica Shapiro Saint John the Baptist, The Culture Industry. OEUVRE AND IMAGE Shaped from a uni vocal and standardiz ed interpreta­tion of an artist’s production, digital technology prevents the constructi­on of a personal connection to the work of ar t, the nourishing of subjecti vity. The imaginary world is gi ven, imposed, and depri ves of imaginatio­n as well as freedom. The Klimt from L’Atelier des Lumières (1) is thus uniformly decorative, just lik e the Caravaggio from Caravaggio Experience (2) is uniformly violent. Let us mention, in passing, that there is a certain irony in observing that the erotic – if not sexual – notion, so important in both painters’ production, is of cour se missing from these “exhibition­s”. Entertainm­ent must remain for all audiences in order to be profitable. These products are not about good or bad mimeticism. It has nothing to do with how far or close they are from the original. For the real no longer counts, no longer exists, perhaps. A shifting is taking place, preventing the encounter with the oeuvre “in the flesh”.Which is all the more harmful that it is becoming commonplac­e and is starting to affect“scientific” exhibition­s in which facsimiles, fak es, stand alongside the oeuvres, without any mention (such is the case with the recreation for the S ebastiano del Piombo exhibition at London’s National Gallery of the Borgherini chapel of San Pietro in Montorio in Rome, or cer tain works in the exhibition at Musée du Luxem- Lacemaker Arcimboldo (1) L’Atelier des Lumières, in Paris, hosts immersive exhibition­s based on images of digitalize­d works, projected in very high definition. Gustav Klimt; Hundertwas­ser, in the Wake of the Vienna Secession; Van Gogh, Starry Night are some of the more recent exhibition­s. (2) In the spring of 2020, Palazzo Sant’Elia, in Palermo, endeavoure­d to let spectators enter Caravaggio’s oeuvre. Unlike the common accusation of the spectators’ passivity in front of the real oeuvre, they are fully active if they are just passing. Receiving an oeuvre, welcoming it, is an action, passivity pertaining more to the sensationa­l intensity of the virtual show, a show that is standardiz­ed and can be endlessly repeated. The oeuvre itself is unique, such is Sébastien Allard is general curator for Cultural Heritage and director of Musée du Louvre’s Department of Paintings. Danièle Cohn is a philosophe­r and Professor Emeritus at Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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