Karl Marx and the Marxist Aesthetics 2

Modern art has also incorporated Marxist aesthetics, perhaps more directly. In the 60’s artists like Andy Warhol created art that reflected the counter-culture of revolution at the time. Warhol created many repetitive, multi-screen prints, which was commentary on mass production under capitalism. His famous “Campbell’s Soup Cans” was a direct critique on capitalism. This piece used the image of a daily object without any obvious aesthetic value, and question the relation between desire and availability 6. More contemporary artists are also using art to comment on capitalist tendencies. In particular, we see artists creating art relating to revolutionary ideas such as “going green” or wasting less resources – a critique on the unnecessary waste in modern capitalist society.

Marxist aesthetics is probably one of the more unique theories of aesthetics in the art world, and can be a useful tool for judging art that is attempting to be revolutionary. Many artists use this theory as a   goal for their artwork, but most happen to have some artwork that falls under the criteria of good art under the theory, while also having plenty of artwork for commercial purposes. Some believe that the rejection of beauty by Marxists aesthetics makes the theory a contradiction, reflecting some of the problems in Marxism itself. In the words of Chris Rasmussen, “what appears to be a system designed to defend beauty, in fact becomes one that seeks out and destroys beauty wherever it finds it”. However, it is hard to deny the influence Marxism and its aesthetic theory have had on art, especially from the 1960s onward. Only history will determine if art under Marxist aesthetics will be considered classic, great artwork.

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