Benjamin, the Image and the End of History

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In his famous 1936 essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical
Reproduction” Walter Benjamin tells us that in his time art became
valued for its exhibition value instead of what he refers to as its
secularised ritual or cult value. This essay makes this bold claim
plausible by arguing that it means that a historicising gaze no longer
has a function in the reception of art. Although this argument is
supported by Benjamin’s use of the concepts of authenticity and
aura, it is somehow missed by Benjamin’s many readers. His essay, as
it turns out, presents an end of history thesis, which foreshadows the
condition of the image in contemporary media.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-54
JournalJournal of Aeshetics and Phenomenology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Walter Benjamin
  • historicising gaze
  • authenticity
  • aura
  • end of history


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