Can we be sure that the European tourist’s pilgrimage to the Pietà of St. Peter’s is less fetishistic than the American tourist’s pilgrimage to the Pietà of Forest Lawn (here more accessible, tangible at close range)? Actually, in these museums the idea of the ‘multiple’ is perfected. The Goethe Institut recently remade in Cologne Man Ray’s spiked flatiron and his metronome with an eye; and since Duchamp’s bicycle wheel survives only in a photograph, they reconstructed an identical one. In fact, once the fetishistic desire for the original is forgotten, these copies are perfect. And at this point isn’t the enemy of the rights of art the engraver who defaces the plate to keep low the number of prints?
This is not an attempt to absolve the shrines of the Fake, but to call the European sanctuaries of the Genuine to assume their share of the guilt.
Umberto Eco Travels in Hyperreality,1973 (trans. 1986)