Marxism and Art, Literature and Aesthetics

Marx himself and the theories and debates that have emerged in his wake have influenced virtually every form of art, even if Marx had little to say about art. During the 20th century, various attempts were made to develop a Marxist theory of art.

Under real existing socialism, these attempts were sometimes quite rigid – which contrasts with the fact that, in the countries of real existing socialism, art was often given the greatest leeway in terms of allowing it to criticise the prevailing conditions. In Western countries, Marx's critique became a source of inspiration, at least an implicit one, in various fields of art. Where Marx's critique was explicitly evoked, this usually occurred in the context of a (self-)critical effort to define the function of art – and sometimes even of overcoming art.

 Andrew Hemingway's 2006 book Marxism and the History of Art is available online.