Reference Entry

Sartre, Jean-Paul

Andrew Dobson

in Oxford Art Online

ISBN: 9780199214921
Published online January 2003 | e-ISBN: 9781884446054 | DOI:
Sartre, Jean-Paul

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  • Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art
  • History of Art
  • 20th-Century Art


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(Charles Aymard)

(b Paris, June 21, 1905; d Paris, April 15, 1980).

French philosopher and writer. The best-known expositor of Existentialism, he spent an unhappy adolescence immersed in an imaginary, generally literary, world, from which he derived a lifelong commitment to a study of the imagination and the creative, artistic impulse. He studied in Paris, achieving his agrégation in Philosophy in 1929. The same year he met the writer Simone de Beauvoir, who became his lifelong companion. In 1931 they travelled to Spain, where Sartre was delighted by the work of Hieronymus Bosch and repelled by that of Titian in the Prado. He published the novel La Nausée (Paris, 1938) and L’Imaginaire (Paris, 1940; Eng. trans., London, 1950), which contain the scattered foundations of an aesthetic that informed his subsequent art criticism. His favouring of the representation in the visual arts of change, flux and the human being’s future orientation is derived from metaphysical premises, and this art criticism can sometimes seem more illuminating about those premises than about the artists on whom he is writing....

Reference Entry.  672 words. 

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art ; History of Art ; 20th-Century Art

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