Olive Trees, Corfu

Olive Trees, Corfu
Date: 1909
Artist: John Singer Sargent
American, 1856-1925
The Art Institute of Chicago
CC0 Public Domain Designation

PG thinks the practice of an increasing number of museums in the United States, Europe and elsewhere to formally designate some pieces in their collections in the public domain under the Creative Commons CC0 Public Domain Designation copyright license is an excellent idea that will increase the public’s awareness of some wonderful pieces of art. Of course, no reproduction will have the same impact as the original has, so an anticipated by-product of these policy decisions is to draw more patrons to the various museums and galleries where these objects may be viewed.

From time to time, PG will post additional copies of various works that have been so designated.

PG enjoyed the Sargent painting in part because it reminded him of a lovely trip he took with Mrs. PG several years ago during which they visited the lovely island of Corfu, off the Northwest coast of Greece in the Ionian Sea.

Following are a couple of photos PG took on Corfu. The first is in an ancient Greek Orthodox monastery and the second is laundry day on a narrow little path between two buildings in the old town of Corfu.

6 thoughts on “Olive Trees, Corfu”

  1. Our Gracious Host said:

    “Of course, no reproduction will have the same impact as the original has…”

    I respectfully disagree with this received wisdom, a meme perpetuated by professors of art history since time immemorial and enshrined in the foolish distinctions of VARA (§ 106A of the Copyright Act, and the subject of a fascinating decision today on whether it also applies to graffiti). I also disagree with it for two other reasons:

    An awful lot of originals require an awful lot of restoration, only to continue to deteriorate over time, meaning that “reproductions” made may well be more faithful to the artist’s work than the “original” is decades or centuries later. Further, some of those reproductions also replicate textural and related elements, at times better than museums preserve them…

    And some of us have sufficient visual impairments (like severe astigmatism) that we’d be unable to tell the difference in a — ahem — blind test unless allowed to fondle the artwork… and even then would probably still get it wrong.

    The visual arts are important. The originals, however, are not “special” in the same way that the auction houses and art-history professors have convinced most people that they are. If they were, everyone would be journeying to, say, Charlottesville to see Faulkner’s original manuscripts, since no “mere reproduction” (like, say, a printed book) could have the same impact.

    • Where paintings are concerned, my experience is that for most of the ones I really like, the experience of seeing them in person is more interesting than viewing photos of them.

      My first job out of college was working in an office that was right across the street from The Chicago Art Insitute, which had and, I understand, still has, a very impressive and extensive collection and it was one of my regular lunch-break destinations.

      It was not unusual for me to be the sole observer of one or more of the museum’s large collection of Impressionist paintings. Sitting in front of one of Monet’s water lilies or haystack paintings, interspersed with approaching the paintings to closely examine the details and methods the artist had used to create various parts of the painting, allowed me to observe details I don’t think I would ever have seen on a computer monitor. They made an impact on me that remains to this day.

      I’ll post a couple of my favorite Art Institute impressionist paintings tomorrow.

      • Completely agree with PG on this, especially with large-scale work. There’s nothing like walking up to a Van Gogh or a Monet hanging on the wall. I still remember sitting in the circular room at the Jeu de Paume in Paris many years ago surrounded by Monet’s gigantic waterlilies. It would impossible to recreate that experience otherwise.

  2. I had the good fortune of seeing a Monet exhibition in SF. Seeing them in real life (and being able to move close up AND far away) is totally different from a book or screen.

    Also, many of the original pictures are much larger than any normal reproduction. To give another example, when traveling through Pennsylvania, I had the wise decision to stop at the Brandywine River museum, and saw the original picture of old Pew for Treasure Island. In the book, it’s a nice illustration. In person, it’s amazingly powerful.

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