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Digital against real?

May 18, 2020

reading time: 5 minutes

by Dr. Johann Kräftner, Director Princely Collections

Die Unbesiegbaren Teresa Feodorowna Ries

Due to the pandemic, art is increasingly being digitalized. Can we still experience the works in this way?

The real world is vanishing and we are having to retreat to our homes. Following the decision of the directors of the leading institutions in Austria not to open until July, it seemed museums would remain closed for a long time. It wouldn’t be worth reopening just for the Viennese, for the Austrians, or in other words, the taxpayers, or the few elderly people or children who would dare to visit.

The motto at the moment is that whoever wants to experience works of art should do so digitally; on phones and tablets, big or small. The current, brutal battle is pitting the digital world against the real world, with two very different cosmos being played off against each other.

Here, I want to take up the cudgels for the original: the aura, the subtlety, the hidden qualities, art as a reflection of life in material form can only ever be experienced when contemplating the original, which must therefore be accessible to viewers through the ages.

The symphony of an important work of art, its specific tone, its aura, can only be experienced and understood when standing in front of the original.

Dr. Johann Kräftner, Director Princely Collections

One does not give access to art by filling churches with gruesome copies of artwork and thereby desecrating them, as was recently the case in Vienna’s Votivkirche – with the support of contributions, public funding and opinion makers.

Monumental copies of great works of art were presented completely incoherently, robbed of their aura, like Michelangelo’s Last Judgement – details from the Sistine Chapel, heedlessly torn out of context.

But: with the help of digital media, much can be learned about the genesis of a work of art, the world in which it was created, the artist, its history, its later fate, its restoration. Digital media, or an app, which explains these worlds, can provide great support in this regard.

Digital media makes a lot of basic knowledge accessible, and everyone, no matter how informed they may be, can learn an unbelievable amount of new things from the infinite depths of such media.

Still: the symphony of an important work of art, its specific tone, its aura, can only be experienced and understood when standing in front of the original; if it can be seen from different angles and perspectives, if you can tiptoe around it, if you can experience it in different kinds of light, in completely different moods.

 To overcome the current crisis, we very urgently need imagination, stimulation, courage and creativity. I must therefore appeal for the opportunity to experience such great works of art close up and in person to be reinstated as soon as possible.

One can, indeed one should, prepare for this cultural experience and internalize as much of the information available about a work of art as possible in order to enjoy the splendor of the piece all the more powerfully when standing in front of the original.

Image: Keystone SDA / Apa / Georges Schneider

LGT is strongly committed to the promotion of art and culture in the spirit of its owner family. For example, it sponsors the Princely Collections and supports numerous special exhibitions around the world.

Before your next visit, you can also experience the Princely Family's works of art at home: Download the MAG/NET App in your App or Google Store and discover art anew.

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