Art Is : The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand by Louise
Cultural icon Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was known as much
for her philosophy as for her fiction. Her original theory of esthetics,
which attacks many "masterpieces" of modernist art, is as
combative and controversial as any of her work, but until now has
received little serious scrutiny. In What Art Is, the authors
demonstrate that Rand's ideas are supported by evidence from other
What is art? The arts establishment has a simple
answer: anything is art if a reputed artist or expert says it is.
Though many people are skeptical about the alleged new art forms that
have proliferated since the early twentieth century, today's critics
claim that all such work, however incomprehensible, is art.
A groundbreaking alternative to this view is provided
by philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand (1905 1982). Best known as the author
Shrugged, Rand also created an original and illuminating theory
of art, which confirms the widespread view that much of today's
purported art is really not art at all.
In What Art Is, Torres and Kamhi present a
lucid introduction to Rand's esthetic theory, contrasting her ideas with
those of other thinkers. They conclude that, in its basic principles,
her account is compelling, and is corroborated by evidence from
anthropology, neurology, cognitive science, and psychology.
The authors apply Rand's theory to a debunking of the
work of prominent modernists and postmodernists from Mondrian, Jackson
Pollock, and Samuel Beckett to John Cage, Merce Cunningham, and other
highly regarded postmodernist figures. Finally, they explore the
implications of Rand's ideas for the issues of government and corporate
support of the arts, art law, and arts education.
From the Author:
As a thinker, Ayn Rand has occupied a remarkably
polarized status in American culture. Her novels and collections of
nonfiction essays have for decades attracted a large popular readership,
worldwide, and her ideas have generated a multifaceted philosophic
movement, with a discernible influence on political and economic thought
in the culture at large. Yet she is still regarded with a mixture of
suspicion and contempt by many intellectuals, including most academics.
In truth, such negative feelings were, in large measure, mutual during
her lifetime, for she began her career as a popular author and, like
Tolstoy and other well-known Russian writers, she deliberately pursued
her literary and philosophic goals as an academic outsider.
Although Rand was a frequent speaker on college
campuses in the 1960s (usually under student rather than faculty
auspices), her status as an outsider never altered, for she was
relentlessly and severely critical of the leftist tendencies of
mainstream academic and intellectual thought. As a result, political
bias often distorted assessments of her work. Nevertheless, aspects of
her philosophy were debated in scholarly journals even during her
lifetime. And since her death in 1982, her ideas have been included in
philosophy anthologies widely used in college classrooms.
In the past five years, Rand studies have accelerated,
with important university press titles and the foundation of the
peer-reviewed Journal of Ayn Rand Studies. Feature articles on
recent Rand scholarship have appeared in Lingua Franca ("The
Heirs of Ayn Rand," September 1999) and the Chronicle of Higher
Education ("Ayn Rand Has Finally Caught the Attention of
Scholars," April 9, 1999).
here to learn more about this book
here for more Rand Books
here for Feminism Books