The Meaning of Art is Lost: A Manifesto

Senior Capstone Experience by Rachel Frebert ’19

Submitted to the Department of Communication and Media Studies

Advised by Dr. Alicia Kozma and Prof. Heather Harvey

Description: “My project, The Meaning of Art is Lost is a visual thesis that focuses on how the experience of art is based within commodity fetishism as an aesthetic object. I argue that contemporary art is based only in the reproduction of an image, where there becomes no distinction between an original work of art and a reproduction. As society progresses within the basis of art consumerism there becomes no value and significance in works of art beyond the object as object. 

“My book is a four-page manifesto followed by a series of paint by numbers that focus on the experience of art as a commodity. The chapters of my book spell out the phrase “the experience of art as a commodity fetish rather than the experience of art as art”. The artist reproduces this phrase within every chapter since each chapter is a word of the phrase above. This work becomes based in reproduction through the replication of the phrase within the chapters as well as in the overall reproduction of the book itself.

“The idea of the paint by number process is based within Andy Warhol’s series Do It Yourself (1962) that emphasizes the loss of creativity and imagination through the instructed number based art pieces within commercial reproduction. The series depicts the mechanical quality of contemporary art through the replication of remaking a commercially produced image. The color palette is based off of the Pantone Process Color Simulator palette of yellow, magenta, cyan, and black in which any image can be reproduced digitally through these four colors. The color palette for this paint by number book follows the CMYK color model to emphasize the process of image reproduction. Image reproduction has shifted the nature of art and forced the valuing of an image to be based only as a commodity fetish object. The meaning of art is lost.”

Read Rachel’s SCE below:

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