ART: What Art Is

From: Technotranscendence (
Date: Sat May 27 2000 - 21:58:41 MDT

_What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand_ by Louis Torres and Michelle
Marder Kamhi is out. I just picked up a copy today in Princeton.

>From the book description:

"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 academic fields."

>From the Back Cover (also as

"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 of The
Fountainhead and Atlas 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."

It should mentioned that this book is _not_ uncritical of Rand's views.

Daniel Ust

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