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Art for art's sake

Related: art

19th century art movements: Aesthetic movement - Symbolist movement - Decadent movement - art

Contrast: social realism


"Art for art's sake" is the usual English rendition of a French slogan, ''l'art pour l'art'', which is credited to Théophile Gautier.

Whether Gautier was the first to write those words, he was the first to adopt them as a slogan. "Art for art's sake" was a bohemian creed in the nineteenth century, a slogan raised in defiance of those who - from John Ruskin to the much later Communist advocates of socialist realism - thought that the value of art was to serve some moral or didactic purpose. Art for art's sake affirmed that art was valuable as art, that artistic pursuits were their own justification, and that art did not need moral justification - and indeed, was allowed to be morally subversive.

The slogan is associated in the history of English art and letters with Walter Pater, and his followers in the Aesthetic Movement, which was self-consciously in rebellion against Victorian moralism.

The Latin version of the slogan, "ars gratia artis", is used as a slogan by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and appears in the oval around the roaring lion's head in their motion picture logo. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_for_art%27s_sake [Feb 2005]

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