Marxist art theory

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Derives from the writings on social theory of Karl Marx (1818–83) and his associate Friedrich Engels (1820–95). Elaborating on his fundamental critique of capitalism (Das Kapital, vol. I, 1867) and his belief in the value, both social and economic, of labour, Marx set down in his scattered writings on the subject the proposition that art should not, by circumstances of demand, be concentrated in certain individuals (such as Raphael), but should be democratized. ‘In a communist society, there are no painters, but at most men who, among other things, also paint’(Die Deutsche Ideologie, 1845). This view, with considerable and varying modifications, exerted considerable influence in the 20th century, most particularly in the development of the study of the social history of art and, more recently, of the New Art History.

Subjects: Art.

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