Alois Riegl () was an Austrian art-historian and philosopher. titled The Modern Cult of the Monument: Its Character and Its Origin. Alois Riegl’s classic essay “The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Character and Origin” () is often cited as the first, and most profound, formulation of. Alois Riegl’s classic essay ”The Modern Cult of Monuments: Its Character and Origin” () is often cited as the first, and most profound, formulation of.

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Riegl defines the monument as an artefact that retains in itself, intentionally or unintentionally, an element of the past — a definition which effectively encompasses any object resulting from human activity. A significant distance in time from the beholder is therefore what first of all characterises a monument.

Alois Riegl and the Modern Cult of the Monument | ERA Architects

For Riegl, different ages encourage the cult of different values. He believes that our attitude towards conservation depends entirely upon which values we attribute to the monument. A detailed summary of his text is not possible here, but a brief outline of the values classified by Riegl might be useful. He identifies two main categories: Memory values pertain to the satisfaction of psychological and intellectual needs.

With its aspiration to an eternal present, the intentional commemorative-value is closely linked with present-day values. Riegl suggests that there are instances in which different values can coexist within the same work and others in which they may clash. A useful example, here, is that of the aspiration to combine historical and newness-valuein other words a situation in which a historical object is wanted in its pristine condition, without any degradation caused by the passage of time.

This seems a frequent occurrence in our culture, which values age, documentary significance and aesthetic quality to similar degrees. Replication represents a possible strategy to deal with this conflict. In his discussion of historical-valueRiegl notes that it is the one value that might invoke recreation or replication, provided that the original remains untouched to preserve its documentary integrity.

He also remarks that over time the replica may itself acquire historical-valueespecially in the case of the loss of the original, but it must always remain a simple aid to research, and should never be presented as a substitute for the original with historical and aesthetic value.

Alois Riegl and the Modern Cult of the Monument

To do this, some broader issues need taking into account. Key points, for instance, are the values that an art work can acquire when it enters a public collection and, closely tied with that, the currently prevailing views over the thd role of the art museum. I would propose that the intention to create replicas suggests an emphasis on use-value which reflects, as we shall see, current trends in museological thought.

This poses the question of its possible uses and users. But since we are discussing art works, the emphasis on use dovetails with that on art-valueand in particular newness. From this perspective, the replica could cater for our aesthetic needs, showing the sculpture in moddern intended condition. The original, though unusable for display purposes, would retain the all-important documentary value and should obviously be preserved.


However, as we have seen, after its creation the replica itself acquires historical and age-value. This poses the question, addressed further down, of its changing values over time, which is particularly relevant in relationship to its hte possible use, in a public display. Here lies the real strength of the museum as opposed to, say, the theme park or the illustrated publication, especially in an age that still values greatly history and authenticity but in which virtual realities and vicarious experiences are becoming commonplace.

It seems to me that one key consideration is the need to ensure that the expectations and trust of visitors are not betrayed.

How can this be achieved? A fair approach could be to present the replica as an object that is immediately recognisable as different from an original. To avoid this, one option could be to present replicas as strictly documentary material and not art work along the lines of documentary and archival material in exhibitions, usually in a dedicated section.

The modern cult of monuments: its character and its origins | University College London

More generally, we ought to ask ourselves if the replica is what the public wants to see when the original is no longer exhibitable. This calls for some considerations about the currently prevailing views over the social role of the art museum. The desire to create replicas for display purposes can be interpreted as the result of the museological trend to use collections primarily for educational purposes, with an essentially utilitarian approach. Yet, when it comes to art created in the last century, it could be argued that the emphasis on original works and the rejection of replication would serve to highlight the transient and precarious nature of some of its strands.

In fact, I would contend that the need to accept at least in some cases this precariousness should be part of the educational message found in the museum.

Does this rule out the use of replicas? Would their presence reinforce the sense of precariousness by highlighting the loss of the original or would it, instead, emphasise our desire to fight it?

Some consideration should also be given to the life of the replica after its creation. Will they be seen as we intend them provided that there is only one way of seeing them? If so, should this stop us from replicating? One of the casts is on permanent display, despite the fact that the notion of casting a work that places so much emphasis on the direct handling of stone and truth to materials sounds questionable to most modern ears.

Yet only forty years ago this approach seemed acceptable to someone with the expertise of former Tate curator Jim Ede, who commissioned the casts.

This case offers, in my view, a powerful reminder of one of the key issues surrounding replication: From this perspective, replicas created today will provide future scholars with useful evidence of our attitudes towards conservation and, more broadly, towards art — in the same way as nineteenth-century forgeries of earlier works tell us about the way of seeing monumeents that period many of the forgeries then believed to be authentic today look obvious fakes alkis us.


This raises one further issue, relating to a broader ethical principle. Assuming that replicas are generally made from deteriorated objects, is it possible to ensure that they are created without any degree of re-interpretation?

Or should we take the view that this would not be a problem? The wider issue, here, is whether replication should be regulated by the same principles governing the conservation of originals, or if different rules should apply.

This is particularly important in relation to the problem identified by Cesare Brandi as the interference of the conservator with the creative process. Moving beyond the Rieglian analysis, I would like to raise one last issue.

From this perspective the outline of the Gabo project at Tate seems exemplary. But is it possible to conduct this amount monumrnts research for every work to be replicated? And if, as I suspect, the answer is negative, are we going to replicate only the degraded works of those artists in whom there is an interest and for whom resources are available? Or are we to lower the standards of research where resources may not be available?

In conclusion, whatever the answers to these questions, I believe that it is fundamental for us to acknowledge that it is our present judgment and taste, and not objective criteria, that drive our choices in conservation and replication. Riegl thought an absolute art-value completely independent of the present Kunstwollen impossible to define.

More recently, David Phillips has remarked that authenticity is dependent upon modefn, conservation and display and modrn therefore subject to the changes in dominant taste and practice in all these areas. On the one hand, we have an art whose emphasis is on experimentation, ephemerality, oc of material decadence and rejection of the traditional principles of conservation and collecting. This paper was written as a short discussion document for the Inherent Vice: Tate Papers ISSN is a peer-reviewed research journal that publishes articles on British and modern international art, and on museum practice today.

A project to catalogue mobuments than sixty boxes of archival material related to the artist Naum Gabo. Main menu additional Become a Member Shop. A Rieglian Analysis of Values in Replication. It thrives on a purely visual appreciation of age, regardless of historical or artistic considerations. It promotes the conservation of the monument as new, to honour adequately the event or person it memorialises. mofern

ghe It advocates restoration and opposes age-value. It is generally, but not always, incompatible with age-value ; art-valuewhich is sub-divided into: Acknowledgements This paper was written as a short discussion document for the Inherent Vice: Cataloguing and disseminating Naum Gabo’s archives A project to catalogue more than sixty boxes of archival material related to the artist Naum Gabo.