Artist and theorist Walter Benjamin stated, “in principle a work of art has always been reproducible; manmade artifacts could always be imitated by men.” Keeping Benjamin’s claims in mind, several works from the Tang’s permanent collection provide example of moments when duplication played a decisive role in the creative process. Published between 1500 and the early 1900s, copyists’ prints served a variety of purposes. The objects displayed in this exhibition are some of the earliest prints from the Tang’s permanent collection, which includes works by printmakers from the sixteenth century to the present. Donated to Skidmore College by its alumni and friends, the museum’s collection currently consists of works of art in media ranging from works on paper, paintings, and sculpture to installation art and decorative objects.
Together, the collection represents a diversity of cultures and time periods as well as the lasting connection between Skidmore and the arts. Making a revelatory, albeit simple, point in the debate over the right to reproduce the work of others, this exhibition provides opportunity to examine occasions when the quandary of duplication has come to the fore in artistic production.