Malraux 1974

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Malraux, Andre. The Voices of Silence. Trans. by Stuart Gilbert. Paladin, 1974.

Museum Without Walls

museums force a metamorphosis of the art object; strip subject and context, force the object to consort with other works possibly unrelated in subject

space of museum privileges pictures and statues, portable

before reproductive technologies, the amount of art that any given person saw was very small; today, with reproduction tech, a "a 'Museum without Walls' is coming into being" (16)

angle of photography can bring out something a work that the sculptor only hinted at (21); can also bring groups that are not related into an appearance of affinity -- "such different objects as a miniature, a piece of tapestry, a statue and a medieval stained-glass window, when reproduced on the same page, may seem members of the same family" (21); also loss of relative proportions

reproduction has created "fictitious" arts "by systematically falsifying the scale" -- similar to what fiction does to reality

"In the realm of what I have called fictitious arts, the fragment is king." (24) -- this fragmentation brings about a metamorphosis that places certain works "in the company of the Elect" (27)
"Classical aesthetic proceeded from the part to the whole; ours, often proceeding from the whole to the fragment, finds a precious ally in photographic reproduction." (30)

tapestry loses texture through reproduction -- seen on same plane as painting

genius expressed through reproduction; not "works" of art but "moments" (46)

"thanks to the rather specious unity imposed by photographic reproduction on a multiplicity of objects, ranging from the statue to the bas-relief, from bas-reliefs to seal impressions, and from these to the plaques of the nomads, a "Babylonian style" seems to emerge as a real entity, not a mere classification -- as something resembling, rather, the life-story of a great creator." (46)
"Alongside the museum a new field of art experience, vaster than any so far known (and standing in the same relation to the art museum as does the reading of a play to its performance, or hearing a phonograph record to a concert audition) is now, thanks to reproduction, being opened up." (46)

transformations of color; loss of color on greek sculpture, loss of color in reproductions -- shapes opinions; even statues with surviving painting have a patina

"Our feeling for a work of art is rarely independent of the place it occupies in art history. This historic sense, a by-product of our place in time and conditioned by the here-and-now, has transformed our artistic heritage (which would be no less transformed were we to relinquish it)." (52)

color expresses the "poetry" in art

"It is not research-work that led to the understanding of El Greco; it is modern art. Each genius that breaks with the past deflects, as it were, the whole range of earlier forms." (68)
"Metamorphosis is not a matter of chance; it is a law governing the life of every work of art. We have learned that, if death cannot still the voice of genius, the reason is that genius triumphs over death not by reiterating its original language, but by constraining us to listen to a language constantly modified, sometimes forgotten -- as it were an echo answering each passing century with its own voice -- and what the masterpiece keeps up is not a monologue, however authoritative, but a dialogue indefeasible by Time." (68-9)
“Not that these works on entering our Museum without Walls will disclaim history — as did the classical works when they entered the official museums of the recent past. Rather, they still link up with history, though precariously (the link is sometimes snapped); their metamorphosis, though infusing new life into history as well, does not affect it to the same extent as it affects the works of art themselves."