Art, Production, and the Myth of Progress: Understanding Critical Questions by Nietzsche, Camus, and Kuspit

By Jorge Miguel Benitez.

Published by The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 17, 2014 $US5.00

In 1951, Albert Camus asked two heretical questions that challenged key modernist assumptions. Had production replaced creativity? Was the avant garde analogous to totalitarianism? Decades later, the American art critic and theoretician Donald Kuspit would ask similar questions about postmodernism in “The End of Art.” Both Camus and Kuspit turned to Friedrich Nietzsche as the consummate advocate of an artistic life beyond fashion and “change for the sake of change.” Furthermore, Nietzsche had questioned the core modernist belief in progress as a meaningful social and artistic goal. This paper will analyze whether or not the questions that Niestzsche, Camus, and Kuspit posed remain relevant in the second decade of the twenty-first century as the arts confront the rise of a global civilization built upon commercial values.

Keywords: Aesthetics, Avant Garde, Innovation

The International Journal of the Arts in Society: Annual Review, Volume 8, December 2014, pp.31-40. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 17, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 440.452KB)).

Jorge Miguel Benitez

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Arts, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Jorge Benitez holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University, where he currently teaches drawing, art theory, and the history of visual communications. His theoretical interests derive from an earlier career in advertising as well as his fluency in French and Spanish. He developed an interest in the conflict between words and images in the 1990s when Americans began to describe their national divisions as a culture war. He currently participates in regional and international exhibitions, and his work is represented in corporate collections and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.