Publications - 04.12.2018 - 00:00 

HSG Focus issue devoted to art

How is the value of a work of art determined? Are machines capable of being creative? And what about the HSG’s art collection? These questions and others are the subject matter of the latest issue of the digital University magazine.

4 December 2018. How strongly art has changed in the age of digitalisation, and even changed at an earlier stage, namely that of the age of technical reproducibility invoked by Walter Benjamin, can be deduced from the borderlines which separate originals from fakes.

When it comes to a digital work of art, what is the original? The code? The idea? Where does the aura come from that is inscribed in every work of art, was again described by Walter Benjamin and, in the eyes of many beholders, only turns it into a work of art in the first place? And what has the art market made of all these considerations, in which signed art prints are the “poor man’s originals”?

All these are questions which are dealt with from a legal perspective in Prof. Dr. Markus Müller-Chen’s introductory article, which does not only home in on provenance research but also picks some “cherries” from legal work in the sphere of art such as the shredding of Banksy’s “Girl with Balloon” on the occasion of an auction at Sotheby’s in London. Right in front of baffled bidders, “Girl with Balloon” was transformed into “Love is in the Bin”.

The aura or, as Franz Schultheis sardonically describes it in the video interview, the “necessary hypocrisy” which keeps the art business going, appears elementary for a market which in many areas is not grounded in rational decisions and also has its downside: the precariat of the badly paid artists and the ancillary service providers of the art business. They all are inhabitants of the art world.

There is a direct link between the University of St.Gallen’s art collection and the name of Hans Josephsohn, one of whose sculptures has adorned the flight of steps outside the Main Building since autumn 2017. In an interview, Felix Lehner, Founder and CEO of Kunstgiesserei St.Gallen and Josephson’s working partner for many years, remembers the exceptional artist and the genesis of the sculpture that can be seen at the HSG.

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