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The Unique Artist According to Marx

The Unique Artist: According to Marx

Judaism and Christianity value your individuality and your creativity, but what about Karl Marx who is so often promoted in artist circles and art programs?

The God of the Bible commissioned artwork in Exodus 31, and even commissioned an artist. You can check out the video on Bezalel HERE. This is how we know that the God of the Bible cares deeply about art. We can also see through all the books of the bible, the parables, stories and poetry, how God validates individuality and creativity.

What about Karl Marx, the father of Marxism? Well, surprisingly, he does not value these things.
Though art schools love to promote his social justice ideas and concern for the poor (and yes we should all care about the poor), they fail to clarify what Marxism would really mean to artists and designers if they truly adopted his worldview.

Note: In my previous video on Marx HERE, I learned through some helpful and challenging comments that this discussion needed a bit more nuance and clarification…and that is what this video is attempting to do. Enjoy!

Let us know your thoughts, comments and ask questions in the comments below, we look forward to hearing from you!

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2 comments on “The Unique Artist According to Marx”

  1. John Daniels Reply

    Joel, yes a much better presentation of your content for the first Marx video. Although I would have to say I think you rather exaggerate his comments on art in the ‘Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’ paper. I’m assuming this is the passage you’re referring to …. the one containing “….Regarded from another aspect: is Achilles possible when powder and shot have been invented? And is the Iliad possible at all when the printing press and even printing machines exist? Is it not inevitable that with the emergence of the press bar the singing and the telling and the muse cease, that is the conditions necessary for epic poetry disappear?”

    As far as I can see his argument (only referring to the ‘art’ section) is primarily putting classical forms of art in its historical context, and perhaps saying that merely copying what has been done before does not really reflect its the society around it. Something which doesn’t sound that revolutionary and which is kind of a truism. I’m not sure I get a call for art that is only “… ugly, offensive and alienating…” from the paper.

    Nevertheless I, for one, appreciate your ‘do-over’ on the whole issue.

    • Joel Pelsue Reply


      Thank you.
      I realized I needed to be more nuanced in this discussion and appreciate the comments such as yours.

      That is another interesting quote you provided, but I wasn’t referring to a particular quote. I was referring to the ideas he is navigating and expounding upon. For Marx, everything should serve the purpose of pursuing revolution. Art is no exception. At the moment, I can’t find my notes on that reference…I think it might also be helpful to see how this is addressed in Marx and Engels “On literature and art: a selection of writings”, referencing English and the middle class. There he makes it clear that “social truths” become the sole purpose of artists living in such an oppressive and alienated reality. Art cannot be about beauty, or anything other than expressing the evils which Marx says must be expressed. Art cannot celebrate anything beautiful – until after the revolution.

      Thanks again.

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