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Book by Torres Louis Kamhi Michelle Marder
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In response to the question "What is art?", today's arts establishment has a simple answer: "anything" is art if a reputed artist or expert says it is. Many people are sceptical about the alleged new art forms that have proliferated during the 20th century - from "abstract art" and "performance art" to "Hyperfiction" and "chance music". Yet today's "experts" claim that all such work, however incomprehensible, is art. An alternative to this view is provided by philosopher-novelist Ayn Rand (1905-1982). Although best known as the author of "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged", Rand created an original and illuminating philosophy of art, which not only offers a profound analysis of the cognitive and emotional function of art but also confirms the widespread view that much of today's purported art is really not art at all. In "What Art Is", Torres and Kamhi present the first in-depth examination and critique of Rand's aesthetic theory. Contrasting her ideas with those of other thinkers, they conclude that, despite shortcomings in detail, Rand's account is compelling. Moreover, they demonstrate that it is supported by evidence from anthropology, neurology, cognitive science and psychology. The authors apply Rand's theory to a debunking of prominent modernist and postmodernist "artists". Finally, they explore its implications for such fields as arts education, law and public policy. Fifteen years after Ayn Rand's death, interest in her life and ideas is booming. All her published works remain in print, and hitherto unpublished writings continue to appear. In 1998 the Showtime cable TV channel will air a movie adaptation of Barbara Branden's biography "The Passion of Ayn Rand", starring Helen Mirren as Rand.
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