Return to Modern Art

Just as modern philosophy is dominated by the attempt to destroy the conceptual level of man’s consciousness and even the perceptual level, reducing man’s awareness to mere sensations—so modern art and literature are dominated by the attempt to disintegrate man’s consciousness and reduce it to mere sensations, to the “enjoyment” of meaningless colors, noises and moods.

The art of any given period or culture is a faithful mirror of that culture’s philosophy. If you see obscene, dismembered monstrosities leering at you from today’s esthetic mirrors—the aborted creations of mediocrity, irrationality and panic—you are seeing the embodied, concretized reality of the philosophical premises that dominate today’s culture. Only in this sense can those manifestations be called “art”—not by the intention or accomplishment of their perpetrators.

Copyright © 1986 by Harry Binswanger. Introduction copyright © 1986 by Leonard Peikoff. All rights reserved. For information address New American Library.


Excerpts from The Ominous Parallels, by Leonard Peikoff. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted with permission of Stein and Day Publishers. Excerpts from The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1971, by The Objectivist. Reprinted with permission of Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc. Excerpts from Atlas Shrugged, copyright © 1957 by Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, copyright © 1943 by Ayn Rand, and For the New Intellectual, copyright © 1961 by Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from Philosophy: Who Needs It, by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 1982 by Leonard Peikoff, Executor, Estate of Ayn Rand. Reprinted by permission of the Estate of Ayn Rand. Excerpts from “The Philosophy of Objectivism” lecture series. Copyright © 1976 by Leonard Peikoff. Reprinted by permission. Excerpts from Alvin Toffler’s interview with Ayn Rand, which first appeared in Playboy magazine. Copyright © 1964. Reprinted by permission of Alvin Toffler. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Plume, a member of Penguin Group (USA), Inc.