This painting and its counterpart, Angel in Green, break from the style of the series whilst still investigating the philosophical questions thrown up by the commercialisation of art. Whereas the others in the series use original Raphael works as source material, these pieces use a Raphael work that has already been interpreted and reconstructed as a commodity for profit. Whilst the implications on the ongoing investigation are already apparent from this small piece of information, a critical reading of the product description, from the shopping website, will assist in clarifying the particular motivations behind the creation of these paintings.
“This charming hand-painted figurine inspired by Raphael’s iconic painting The Mond Crucifixion, has been individually crafted by experienced and highly skilled craftsmen.
Your very own piece of art, this figurine is based on the ‘Angel in Green/Gold’ character in the painting seen catching Jesus’s blood in a chalice. Made from resin, it comes complete with a card featuring the painting, a description about the ‘Angel in Green/Gold’ character and information on the artist Raphael. The detail is provided in English, French, German and Dutch.
A beautiful ornament for the home or an original gift for a loved one, this model is sure to add a touch of character to any space.”
The promises made in the product description are symptomatic of the methods by which capitalism have invaded the art world, transforming it into an industry and marketplace. Firstly, and most significantly, the The Mond Crucifixion has been mutated into spectacle through the destruction of its aura. The aura has been eradicated through the plethora of reproductions that have been made of the painting; it no longer has a 'unique existence in the place where it is at the moment.'1 In its place has arisen a new phenomena, a fetishisation of the artworks authenticity.
Angel in Gold, 2015, Oil on Panel, 20x30cm
The fetish romanticises and mystifies the original artwork, instilling a sense of transcendence, a mimicry of the once genuine spiritual purpose. It is the 'rancid magic of its commodity character.'2 This fetish is entangled with a broader commodity fetishism, a necessary feature of the spectacle, which comes with the desire to own that which is authentic. This is why the 'individually crafted by experienced and highly skilled craftsmen' detail is important; this fact gives credence to the products pitch.
The product masquerades as a genuine artwork, not a mere reproduction. This is why it is described as 'handmade' despite its being mass produced. This takes the act of purchasing a step further than a simple print of the painting (which of course the figurine comes with.) What is the next best thing if one cannot purchase the painting itself? A genuine, original piece of art made in connection with the painting by an official institution. The claim that it is '[y]our very own piece of art' is quite serious. The accompanying booklet encourages the contemporary capitalist moment of globalisation, offering a variety of languages. There is the apparent desire to expand the potential market as much as possible. The language used in the description draws upon ambiguous and subjective terms such as 'charming,' 'beautiful,' and 'character'. These words offer an idealised image of the commodity, which may realistically be described as meretricious and kitsch. Other than a couple of brief details about the product, the majority of this description acts as advertising, allowing insight into the techniques utilised in order to sell.
1. Benjamin and Underwood, The Work of Art in the Age Of Mechanical Reproduction, 5.
2. Ibid. 21