Art museums, old paintings, and our knowledge of the past

History and Theory 40 (2):170–189 (2001)
Abstract
Art museums frequently remove old paintings from their original settings. In the process, the context of these works of art changes dramatically. Do museums then preserve works of art? To answer this question, I consider an imaginary painting, The Travels and Tribulations of Piero's Baptism of Christ, depicting the history of display of Piero della Francesca's Baptism of Christ. This example suggests that how Piero's painting is seen does depend upon its setting. According to the Intentionalist, such changes in context have no real influence upon the meaning of Piero's painting, and consequently museums can be said to preserve works of art. According to the Skeptic, if such changes are drastic enough, we can no longer identify the picture's original meaning, and museums thus fail to pre- serve works of art. Skepticism deserves attention, for such varied influential commenta- tors as Theodore Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Maurice Blanchot, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martin Heidegger, Hans Sedlmayr, and Paul Valery hold this pessimistic view of muse- ums. I develop the debate between the Intentionalist and the Skeptic. Ultimately skepti- cism is indefensible, I argue, because it fails to take account of the continuities in the his- tory of art's display. But Intentionalism is also deficient because it is ahistorical. In pre- senting the history of Piero's painting, The Travels and Tribulations of Piero 's Baptism of Christ shows that we can re-identify the original significance of Piero's work and the rec- ognizable continuities that obtain through its changes. It thus makes sense to claim that at least in certain circumstances art museums can preserve works of art
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,808
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Similar books and articles
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2009-01-28

Total downloads

5 ( #234,452 of 1,099,817 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #189,552 of 1,099,817 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.