On Connoisseurship


This web site grew out of an exhibition at the Boston Institute of Fine Arts in 1994. After reviewing my work and the work of the other contributors I wanted to extend the scope to include an examination of some aspects of postmodernist aesthetics.

Connoisseurship can be included in the realm of modernism, along with museums, art galleries and “the cult of originality.”

Postmodernism contains many provocative concepts. Among them, the electronic revolution is seen as “the endless proliferation of copies which challenge and disperse [modernism’s] claim to originality as the mark of genius.” “copies without originals,” and a reaction against “the valorization of originality.”

Perpetuation of “the aura of originality” is seen to be the bugaboo of museums, connoisseurship, etc. Mechanical reproduction is seen to be a challenge to a “deep ideological longing to maintain the status of originality” and the “faith in high art.” This is important because a good deal of the art of the last quarter century is based on these principles. Postmodernist methods include repetition, appropriation, imitation, plagiarism and violation in order to refute the putative autonomy of the work of art.

After you have looked through this site, please go to the Discussion Area and contribute your thoughts on these issues.

©1998 R de Koster