Authenticity in art

Authenticity in art is manifest in the different ways that a work of art, or an artistic performance, can be considered authentic.[1] The initial distinction is between nominal authenticity and expressive authenticity. In the first sense, nominal authenticity is the correct identification of the author of a work of art; of how closely an actor or an actress interprets a role in a stageplay as written by the playwright; of how well a musician's performance of an artistic composition corresponds to the composer's intention; and how closely an objet d’art conforms to the artistic traditions of its genre. In the second sense, expressive authenticity is how much the work of art possesses inherent authority of and about its subject, and how much of the artist's intent is in the work of art.[2]

The philosophers of authenticity: Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir at the memorial to Honoré de Balzac.

For the spectator, the listener, and the viewer, the authenticity of experience is an emotion impossible to recapture beyond the first encounter with the work of art in its original setting. In the cases of sculpture and of painting, the contemporary visitor to a museum encounters the work of art displayed in a simulacrum of the original setting for which the artist created the art. To that end, the museum visitor will see a curated presentation of the work of art as an objet d’art, and might not perceive the aesthetic experience inherent to observing the work of art in its original setting — the intent of the artist.[3]

Artistic authenticity is a requirement for the inscription of an artwork to the World Heritage List of the Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation of the United Nations (UNESCO);[4] the Nara Document on Authenticity (1994) stipulates that artistic authenticity can be expressed through the form and design; the materials and substance; the use and function; the traditions and techniques; the location and setting; and the spirit and feeling of the given work of art.[5][6]


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