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The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  6,374 ratings  ·  70 reviews

Benjamin’s famous 'Work of Art' essay sets out his boldest thoughts--on media and on culture in general--in their most realized form, while retaining an edge that gets under the skin of everyone who reads it. In this essay the visual arts of the machine age morph into literature and theory and then back again to images, gestures, and thought.

This essay, however, is only

Paperback, 374 pages
Published October 1st 2011 by Belknap Press (first published 1936)
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Community Reviews

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Eddie Watkins
I’m a mild-mannered guy, passionately mild-mannered I should say, as I’m not very demonstrative, rarely boiling, but always at a simmer. And I’m not boiling now, but I am annoyed, vaguely so, and I’m looking for some help to specify my annoyance, or refute it.

This past Saturday night I was at a party and this relatively new store, or boutique, in Philadelphia kept coming up as a topic of conversation. The name of this boutique is Art in the Age, which in its fullness reveals itself as Art in the
This is a new collection of essays with improved translations and a special focus on the media. The famous essay on Art and Technological Reproducibility (Das Kunstwerk im Zeitalter seiner technischen Reproduzierbarkeit) comes first, but the rest of the essays are thematically grouped - Script and Image, Painting, Music, Film, Photography, the Publishing Industry, and Radio. He talks about Charlie Chaplin and Chinese painting.

Benjamin's thought is difficult for me to analyze, not just from its
Nov 17, 2009 Miriam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in art and/or modernism
Recommended to Miriam by: Luke Gibbons
Shelves: ideas, art, non-fiction

Paul Klee, Angelus Novus

" This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from Paradise; it has got caught in his wings with such violence that the angel can no longer close them. The storm irresistibly propels h
Not that I expect anyone to actually read a college essay I wrote five years ago, but I present here my full thoughts upon Walter Benjamin's wonderful essay "The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility". I wrote it for one of my favorite classes (Aesthetics) and I have fond memories of trying to divine the real effects of copy machines and cameras on an art world that existed for centuries without such reproducibility.

Ambivalence In the Age of Art’s Technological Reproducibil
Nicolas Baygert
Classique serré, arguments percutants et intuition implacable. Benjamin y enterre tout simplement l’art au sens noble.

Dissocié de son aura cultuelle, l'art perd son autonomie originelle, désormais livrée au règne du contretype. Ainsi, Benjamin retrace dans cet essai la volonté des masses de « rendre les choses spatialement et humainement « plus proches » de soi. […] un désir tout aussi passionné que leur tendance à déposséder tout phénomène de son unicité au moyen d’une réception de sa reproduc
David Blumenkrantz
With the benefit of much hindsight, the essay still seems prophetic. Mechanical reproduction "changes the reaction of the masses toward art," and "emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual." Benjamin's essay outlines the social, political, and psychological implications of this "emancipation." The lost aura is replaced with a social significance, which Benjamin argues is "inconceivable without its destructive, cathartic aspect that is the liquidation of the traditiona ...more
Nov 12, 2008 Tosh rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who pack lightly before a trip
Perfect size for the airplane trip. One of the Penguin Great Ideas series, this beautifully designed little edition of a new translation of Benjamin's classic essay on the nature of reproduction of images/art/film and what it mean aesthetically as well as culture changes in how we look at an object or work of art.

Also included are essays on Kafka and Proust. Both are excellent.
I won't say much that can contribute to the mass of reviews of these short book. Just to justify my rating. Benjamin's a smart chap, maybe a bit too smart sometimes, and this essay is equally as apt now as it was when it was written. However, there's something I find, personally, about his writing style that just sends me to sleep. He waffles around the point, and by the time he's actually made it I've lost all interest, and going back to re-read passages seems to get me no closer to achieving a ...more
One of the foremost tasks of art has always been the creation of a demand which could be fully satisfied only later. The history of every art form shows critical epochs in which a certain art form aspires to effects which could be fully obtained only with a changed technical standard, that is to say, in a new art form. The extravagances and crudities of art which thus appear, particularly in the so-called decadent epochs, actually arise from the nucleus of its richest historical energies. In rec ...more
Point de vue intéressant par rapport à la période durant laquelle ce livre a été écrit (début XXème).
Une remise en question de notre approche à l'oeuvre d'art suite à l'arrivée de la photographie, puis du cinéma, transformant l'art alors réservé à une petite élite intellectuelle en une industrie destinée aux masses et vidée de son aura par le progrès technique.
Un bon début de réflexion sur la place de l'art dans la société, malheureusement beaucoup trop court mais invitant le lecteur à approfon
This is a provocative essay on the changing nature of art in western society. Benjamin points out that the changes in class structure from the 19th to 20th century gave birth to an art form for the masses, film (the spectator doesn't need to be literate or have access to paintings or sculptures). The essay left me wondering what Benjamin would think of our current age of digital social media and instant reproducible imagery where everyone is a filmmaker, photographer, writer, etc.

As for the essa
Zhifei Ge
Notes of the book:
1. Process reproduction is more independent of the original than manual reproduction.

2. Technical reproduction can put the copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself.

3. (This is very debatable:)The manner in which human sense perception is organized, the medium in which is is accomplished, is determined not only by nature but by historical circumstances as well.

4. (another assumption worth debating) The uniqueness of a work
This maybe the best introduction to Walter Benjamin's work. His essay on "Reproducibility" is the classic text that every media or art student has to read - and rightfully so. He's was (or is on the page) a remarkable thinker and writer. Essential figure in the art of the essay. This is a very handsome edition of some of his greatest works. Do read and study hard!
- l'opera d'arte nell'epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica
- piccola storia della fotografia
- eduard fuchs, il collezionista e lo storico
- che cos'è il teatro epico?
- commenti ad alcune liriche di brecht
David Williamson
An extremely prophetic essay by a great writer, tends to loose me when talking of an aestheticization of war like a Futurist, but again, sadly is prophetic about this too.
๖ۣۜSαᴙαh ๖ۣۜMᴄĄłłiƨʈeʀ
I'm very tired and wired on coffee, and so I'm not even 100% sure if I should be leaving a review (but if I don't do it now, I don't see myself ever doing it). This book was well argued and well translated, but I find myself disagreeing with his overall thesis. I don't agree that technological reproduction takes away from the authenticity of a work, because it's still art. In any case, I'm glad I read this book, because Benjamin's arguments have given me much food for thought, and I am certain t ...more
Leez Matías
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Russell Olson
I bought this book for the titular essay, but stayed for the Kafka.

I've come across references to Walter Benjamin in myriad sources, but mainly for The Arcade Project. But in the last half of 2011 I kept coming across the titular essay contained in this collection. As a cartoonist, the concept of reproduction is nearly always at the forefront of cartooning thought and theory (that and alternatives to banana peels) so I snapped this little volume up. I found the essay on mechanical reproduction
"L'opera d'arte nell'epoca della sua riproducibilità tecnica" nell'epoca dei gruppi di discussione

Un quadro non è fatto per la sua riproduzione in tante copie. Ma un film sì, quindi per un film non ha più senso parlare di originale.

"Sta nascendo un modo di fare arte che non prevede originali ma soltanto infinite copie. Non ha più senso parlare di copie e originali".

Questa è la prima, fondamentale intuizione. Attualissima. Pensate a quanta arte oggi è fatta in modo tale da essere immediatamente d
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Veli-Matti Hinkula
An interesting read in the Age of Digital Reproduction.

Now, after reading this work it almost feels wrong for me as a reader to raise myself into a position of a "semi-critic", as Mr. Benjamin calls them, and rate the book. But perhaps there is a difference. By merely enjoying works of art we're not qualified to become their critics, but we are welcome to voice our opinions, however much, or little, those opinions might carry weight.

The cover art of the Penguin Books' "Great Ideas" edition of th
The title essay has had such a landmark effect on media studies-- it's too bad how false it has largely turned out to be. Much in the same way that the high culture of Benjamin's day preserved the ethos of industrial capitalism, so does the era of technological reproducibility. Maybe Marx was right, and maybe "culture" is largely a superstructure that is dependent on the economic conditions. Either way, Google Image Search sure as shit ain't liberating us.

Oh well! Benjamin remains an immensely w
In "The World of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility," second version, Walter Benjamin argues that in this "new stage in the technology of reproduction," (20) that the "unique existence in a particular place" is lacking in reproduction — authenticity eludes technological reproduction (21). Reproduction detaches an object from tradition and from its aura, or its "strange tissue of space and time: the unique apparition of a distance, however near it may be" (23). Technological repr ...more
Jun 09, 2009 Sofia rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in art / literature theory
Shelves: art
I bought this book because my Aesthetics professor mentioned it in class. The first thing I noticed is that the cover is absolutely brilliant. As for the book itself, it consists of an essay about how the reproducibility of art changes the way we perceive it and how it relates to the mass media society. This is a classic essay but in my opinion it's still a great read today.

The book also includes two more essays, one on Kafka and another on Proust, which I found very interesting and insightful,
Opera notissima e citatissima, è pubblicata assieme ad altri brevi saggi sulla storia della fotografia, su un collezionista d'arte e su Bertolt Brecht.
Ha più di uno spunto acuto e interessante, ma in generale è molto datata e ancorata all'epoca storica in cui è scritta. Proprio questo però è un ulteriore motivo di interesse: l'arte negli anni '30 del '900 era in ebollizione la fotografia e il cinema, ancor molto giovani, mostravano esplosivamente che il linguaggio artistico stava cambiando.
Idan Brull
The single (I think) article by Benjamin that can be understood more easily to a wider audience, and still this is one of the most importants ones of all.
Koen Verbrugge
Essay over het impact van reproductie op kunst - Ook wel de verschuiving van kunst als ritueel tot kunst voor impact.

In dit boek leiden fotografie en film een nieuw hoofdstuk van 'reproductie' in (1935). Dat leidt tot groter bereik en engagement, maar tegelijkertijd leidt het evenzeer tot een verschuiving in de maatschappij, één die ons wegleidt van authenticiteit. Tot het punt waarop we kiezen voor fascisme omdat het 'impactvol' voor ons spreekt, niet omdat het voor ons werkt.

Een interessant
Interesting assessment of the place of cinema and film as art particularly as it is written during the rise of fascism and the "Futurists".
Great collection. Lovely cover (apt).
It's one of the most important 20th century works on aesthetics.
I read it for university. The book was interesting, but it was also boring..
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a good book.. 2 17 Aug 04, 2012 03:20PM  
  • The Culture Industry
  • Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
  • Cinema 2: The Time-Image
  • Image, Music, Text
  • The Society of the Spectacle
  • Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud
  • The Medium is the Massage
  • The Production of Space
  • The Order of Things: An Archaeology of the Human Sciences
  • The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge
  • The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture
  • On Ideology
  • War and Cinema: The Logistics of Perception
  • Against Interpretation and Other Essays
  • The Language of New Media
  • Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths
  • The Dialectics of Seeing: Walter Benjamin and the Arcades Project (Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought)
  • The Emancipated Spectator
Walter Bendix Schönflies Benjamin was a German-Jewish Marxist literary critic, essayist, translator, and philosopher. He was at times associated with the Frankfurt School of critical theory and was also greatly inspired by the Marxism of Bertolt Brecht and Jewish mysticism as presented by Gershom Scholem.

As a sociological and cultural critic, Benjamin combined ideas drawn from historical materiali
More about Walter Benjamin...
Illuminations The Arcades Project Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writings Berlin Childhood around 1900 One Way Street And Other Writings (The Verso Classics Series)

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“Painting, by its nature, cannot provide an object of simultaneous collective reception... as film is able to do today... And while efforts have been made to present paintings to the masses in galleries and salons, this mode of reception gives the masses no means of organizing and regulating their response. Thus, the same public which reacts progressively to a slapstick comedy inevitably displays a backward attitude toward Surrealism.” 3 likes
“No início do século XX, a reprodução técnica tinha atingido um nível tal que começara a tornar objeto seu, não só a totalidade das obras de arte provenientes de épocas anteriores, e a submeter os seus efeitos às modificações mais profundas, como também a conquistar o seu próprio lugar entre os procedimentos artísticos.” 0 likes
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