What Art Is Online


by Louis Torres & Michelle Marder Kamhi

Excerpt from What Art Is (p. 1)

By the end of the [twentieth] century, most critics and scholars had come to regard the legitimacy of every conceivable new form of art as beyond question, while "traditional" contemporary work was relegated to nearly total neglect--a trend that has continued unabated into the new millennium.



Excerpt from What Art Is (p. 7)

The pervasiveness of public skepticism regarding what passes for "contemporary art" is . . . suggested by the frequency with which the question "But is it art?" (or variants thereof) crops up in headlines or in book or lecture titles--pertaining to virtually anything, from "conceptual art" to pottery, tattoos, and furniture. . . . [Most] often, the crucial question is merely posed rhetorically, as if anticipating a skeptical response to the "difficult" or bizarre work under discussion.

"But Is It Art?" in Titles of Books and Articles

Following are titles not cited in What Art Is. In each case, the authors treat controversial work as if it were art. In effect, they subscribe to the dictum that virtually anything can be art.

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Excerpt from What Art Is (p. 332, n. 81)

In the early years of [the development of Rand's philosophy of] Objectivism, the Nathaniel Branden Institute sponsored lectures and other educational activities. Since Rand's death, two new organizations have been founded to study and further her philosophy: the doctrinaire Ayn Rand Institute--headed, in effect, by its Chairman emeritus, Leonard Peikoff (who is also Rand's "intellectual heir" and executor of her estate); and The Objectivist Center (formerly the Institute for Objectivist Studies), which advocates the open exchange of ideas, and is directed by David Kelley, a former associate of Rand's. See Marci McDonald, "Fighting over Ayn Rand: A Radical Individualist's Followers Can't Get Along," U. S. News & World Report, 9 March 1998, and letters to the editor, 30 March 1998.


What Art Is Online is a supplement to What Art Is: The Esthetic Theory of Ayn Rand by Louis Torres and Michelle Marder Kamhi (2000). Copyright is held by the authors.

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