Art Term

Aura

Aura is a quality integral to an artwork that cannot be communicated through mechanical reproduction techniques – such as photography

The term was used by Walter Benjamin in his influential 1936 essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. Benjamin argued that 'even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element: Its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be.' He referred this unique cultural context i.e. 'it's presence in time and space' as it's 'aura'.