An instant of the work of art and of the document: Paul Otlet, Walter Benjamin and Erwin Panofsky on photographic reproduction

One of the key phases in the analysis and theorisation of how photographic reproduction mediates works of art took place between the two world wars, thanks to work in documentation, the philosophy of history, and the history of art by Paul Otlet, Walter Benjamin, and Erwin Panofsky respectively. Their work clearly runs through current thinking on documents, reproduction, and iconology, but the interconnections between their work have yet to be explored. Their thinking reflects what might be termed an epistemological moment, helping to identify the issues at stake in documenting memory and collecting works. These issues are faced by the organisations responsible for collecting, documenting, and disseminating such works.