Giulio Carlo Argan

Photo by Carmela Gross


argan's work as a materialist historian and dialectical thinker of the experience of art

a division

Does the history of art consist in a domain of virtuosity, of rare and precious goods or, on the contrary, in an investigation into historical modes of production of value? And, if this hypothesis prevails, then, equally, in a critical economy and, therefore, in a reflection on work – as a source of value – and, correlatively, on the city, politics and history?

Such disjunctive was posed by Giulio Carlo Argan (1909-92) right at the beginning of “History of Art (The story of art)” (1969),[I] an eminently theoretical essay in which he critically reviewed the main currents of art historiography and which he dedicated to two distinguished scholars, Lionello Venturi (1885-1961) and Erwin Panofski (1892-1968) – two spirits of the Enlightenment in the discipline –, for which he was venerated, even though his work had limits that he did not fail to point out.

This distinction – summarized in the initial disjunctive – guided all of argan's work as a materialist historian and dialectical thinker of the experience of art; that is to say, of the latter not as a mere expression of pathos, but as a historical-philosophical mode of judgment and totalization. Therefore, a reflective mode in constant critical dialogue with other modes of activity, and therefore, equally, a practice capable of outlining projects for the future.

I will start from this distinction here, as it is still valid today as a general watershed in the field of research into art and architecture – this, another field in which Argan's work developed in a correlative and systematic way. A field whose nature, it is worth noting, is intrinsically heterogeneous – by combining historical, urban, aesthetic and political issues – decisively contributed to Argan's reflection on art being placed in permanent dialectic with issues of the city.

In this sense, considering that works of art modernly participate in the general circulation process and are therefore subordinated to the procedures and practices inherent in the representation of value, Argan proposed a distinction regarding the way of dealing with art: one can take care of the value, for example, sorting it, qualifying it, etc. – or one can inquire and reflect on value, asking about its historical condition, constitution, physiology, etc.

Based on this distinction, it is possible to divide the lineages of art historiography into two major groupings of currents, according to focuses of interest and horizons adopted. A wide current, in addition to being rooted in tradition and endowed with great institutional power, aims at the external form, and already crystallized, of the value a posteriori; that is to say, the art object already considered as such; therefore, taken as intrinsically distinct from other objects placed as utensils, therefore without inherent value and subjected to different circumstantial purposes.

This distinction between utensil and work of art, that is, between ordinary objects and others, with value in themselves, derives in terms of historical horizon from that which once distinguished the religious sphere from the others in the Western tradition. Founded on the party that is indifferent to the conditions for the constitution of value – and since then considers the nature of art as given –, this history of art only seeks to identify and classify the value of the analyzed object. It also sets the general conditions of aesthetic reception, conservation and circulation of the object, consistent with the referred value. The various forms of formalism in art history and criticism rest on these foundations.

In the second mode or regimen of treatment of art – adopted by Argan – art is taken among other historical processes of production of value. Thus, if classical economic theory first adopted work as a substance of value and this proposition was reused in another key by Hegel (1770-1831) and also Marx (1818-83), in turn, Argan took art in a different way. analogous among other forms of value production and, according to this perspective, as a paradigmatic way of working. Argan was thus able to “combine the artistic question with investigations linked to the dynamics of production and the economy, without the risk of reductionism”.[ii]

When art finds itself inserted in the breadth of such a historical field, it is always indispensable to approach it, to confront the variation of social forms and ways of working. Similarly, it is a necessary condition for its intelligibility to establish a parallel with the regimes of appropriation and accumulation of wealth that constitute such social formations and that concretely place art in them as a specific historical formation.

Work regimes

Among the problems inherent in such a perspective, there are productive structures, that is, specific historical formations endowed with a certain power to shape or influence conduct. It is necessary to consider them as much as their negation, that is, the crucial transitions of symbolic regimes that show transformations or ruptures in productive structures and that occur sometimes in the course of a generation, radically affecting an authorial trajectory. Think, for example, of the paradigmatic case of Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), successively painter of the Royal Academy, artist of the Revolution, who later became an author among others in the Thermidorean period, and later, a key man and artist paradigmatic in the consulate and at the height of Bonapartism, to finally become an exiled artist. Faced with such changes, which decisively altered the function of art along with the political regimes, how can we place David according to a single authorial regime or symbolic condition, as a painter? In short, historical formations and authorial functions inherent to them act as factors in the composition of a complex of multiple determinations, from which a specific synthesis will be extracted in the form of the artistic practice or art object in question.

Thus, with regard to Greek Antiquity, it is possible to delimit from the so-called “archaic” artistic period, which preceded the “classic”, a first field of reference in which statues, ceramics, mosaics and buildings were generally made by slaves or craftsmen under regime of servitude. It is important to keep in mind that such periodization regarding the status of work does not apply indiscriminately to other arts in which the issue of physical effort did not count (see the word arts), contrary to what happened in the visual and architectural arts. The distinction between the arts in terms of the physical effort required may go unnoticed today, but it certainly mattered when looking at slavery or servitude – and work was either not seen as a source of value or not at all.[iii]

This consideration does not absolutely eliminate the other historical questions of form, technique or material properties: these persist and obviously demand an investigation on another plane, as much as tectonic or constructive questions, for example the support of a pyramid, or for its construction through the slave's arm, whether through free labor or any other. However, the production of visual objects associated with coercion inscribes questions related to the internal nexus of the artistic form and the social value of the object in a historical field that is very different from ours – in which the criteria of freedom and autonomy have become crucial references for the objects of art. modern art, according to the opposition proposed by Kant (1724-1804) between as “production for freedom” and “craftsmanship” – in which the latter is successively qualified as “paid”, “unpleasant” production, and possible to “be coactively imposed”.[iv]

Once this criterion concerning the regimes of work and value is established, it can be said that the above historical field extends in some way throughout antiquity, before and after the classical period in Greece as well as to imperial Roman art, and penetrates broad extracts of the pre-bourgeois Christian era dominated by feudalism.

On these bases, a second field can be delimited. In it, the practice of the visual arts was entrusted – by contract, other forms of ordering or acquisition - to the salaried or similarly remunerated free worker, first linked to corporations, then subjected to the academies spread in the course of mercantilist capitalism. Such an artisan enjoyed another kind of social insertion. He was part of a process already governed by economic expansion and in the midst of such development he would be recognized according to specificities that obeyed criteria similar to those of a liberal professional. As a skilled craftsman with some theoretical mastery of his subject and enjoying a somewhat enviable position in terms of the social division of labor, such a master craftsman often had other workers under his command. He also sometimes enjoyed (since Gothic art at the end of the so-called medieval period) the power to individuate his own production, which gave him certain discursive licenses and the prerogative to sign the work.

Although the history of art since the treatise by Giorgio Vasari (1511-74), Le Vite de' più Eccellenti Architetti, Pittori, et Scultori Italiani (1550/1558) - what can be seen as the first survey of authors, endowed with a certain systemic ambition –, whether it is full of peculiarities, and the distinctions proposed here should be understood as mere prisms or regulatory parameters, it can be said that the process of recognition of the character The liberalization of visual practices has been progressively processed in Europe since the expansion of medieval towns from approximately the 12th and 13th centuries (depending on the region) and reached a certain paradigmatic limit in the last decades of the 18th century in absolutist France. In the latter, the professional artist could aspire, according to established tradition and law, to the position of "king's painter", accumulating functions and responsibilities such as placing orders with his peers for official buildings and also exercising pedagogical and normative functions such as Academy member. However, if the “King's painter” boasted privileges, including that of setting up his studio in the Louvre palace, he still did not enjoy “autonomy”.

In fact, for the modern criteria that were established historically and socially with the French Revolution,[v] the artist of Ancien Régime he did not know the freedom of judgment. A certain freedom reigned and exceptions were tolerated when it came to pictorial genres considered “minor”. This was the case in the case of customary scenes or in the molds of still lifes or even in the case of self-portraits, cases in which the painter had a certain license and the necessary means to act on his own and often to negotiate with private buyers. On the contrary, when it came to exercising his art in the larger genre, that is, in that so-called “historical” that directly interested the Crown and was generally intended for palaces and churches, the artist remained deprived of all effective power over the means, the content and purpose of your work.

So, just by way of comparison and example – and certainly committing an anachronism –, it can be said of this court professional with many benefits linked to the position, that he was as lacking in his own decision-making power as a top executive of a multinational corporation nowadays, who holds multiple privileges linked to their functions, but is subject to dictates of various orders that exceed them and strip their position, despite the material benefits, the dignity of freedom and autonomy of judgment, attributed in principle to a liberal profession. Marat, by the way, called such artists “luxury workers” (deluxe ouvriers) and aligned them with “lenders” (moneylenders).[vi]

art as laissez-faire

A third field of problems regarding the way of working was constituted by artistic production based on freedom and then elaborated as a reflective practice according to the values ​​of autonomy. Here, the work of producing visual objects was associated, on the one hand, with values ​​close to or similar to those that were characteristic of the practice of philosophy, which, overcoming its subjection to the Christian Church, had recovered in the period immediately preceding the French Revolution. the privilege of freedom as a distinction from servitude, following the example of the tradition outlined in polis classic.

Thus, that painting and art become philosophy was what the Jacobin painter Jacques-Louis David intended and proclaimed during the brief interregnum (1792-4) during which the French revolutionary republic lasted, before the Thermidorian regime.[vii] And analogously that art was made for freedom and for pleasure- as opposed to handicrafts, for money -, that is to say, that art should be disinterested, public and autonomous was what Kant proposed in Judgment Critique published contemporaneously with the French Revolution.[viii]

However, in the field of political autonomy, in the liberal sense that emerged approximately in a period coeval with freedom of enterprise and “free work” or salaried work, it must be considered that the habitat of correlated art, if it included the principle of autonomy, it also included new complex forms, and now ambiguous, of constraint. In this way, for example, the same David - after having been, until the coup of 9-10 Thermidor (27-28.07.1794), the emblematic artist of the Revolution, a member of the leading faction of the Convention and who received orders directly from it - he also stood out (after leaving the Thermidorian prison and regaining his freedom in 1795) for opening his studio - now private - to the visitation by charging entrance fees.[ix]

Both Kant and David were characteristically men of the Enlightenment who sought to formulate new parameters for the field of the arts; As in other fields – undergoing accelerated restructuring at that time –, for the arts, other criteria and purposes were already imposed after the end of the Ancien Régime. Thus, in the middle of the following century, Delacroix (1798-1863) first and Baudelaire (1821-67) then began to refer to "modern art" ever since. The first, in a prosaic and current way, in its journal, written over forty years, starting in 1822; while the second, already in the quality of critic and first thinker of the new phenomenon, which makes Marat (1793), by David, the first landmark of “modern art”.[X]


One of the distinctive ideological elements of “modern art” is the open opposition to certain forms of guardianship and alienation in the field of the arts. But in the empirical reality, which is often in contradiction with the above opposition, the artist's complex and ambiguous situation is quite different and leads him to unfold into a merchant of himself and his works. Finally, the need to face this new contradiction – perceived with the force of an acute impact, as well as an inherent reflection of its new general condition – constituted, as an inseparable concern of the production and circulation of the arts, a dramatic discovery that crossed the generation by authors of the first half of the 19th century - see for example the works of Daumier (1808-79) and Courbet (1819-77), among others. In short, such were the daily and constant dilemmas of the authors of romanticism and the first modern realism.

In this new light, art in principle started to be made for freedom, Kant dixit.[xi] Thus, the artist obtained his means of production, freeing himself from the tutelage of the Crown and the Church. In an analogous way, he also took over the modes of operation and the forms he produced. He became, therefore, the first responsible and direct owner of the fruits of his work, which, like other artisans and small traders, he started to present directly to the public judgment and to the buyers. - remember the emblematic case of David in undertaking the commercial exhibition of his works, once the revolutionary period of the First French Republic had ended.

In this way, authorial authenticity and poetic sovereignty, as ethical and aesthetic values, came to constitute the declared nominal foundations of a new social-artistic contract based on competition, which frequently called for innovations, and in the light of which respect for genres and the academies came to be seen as a characteristic element of the outdated art of the Ancien Régime. However, and also in these terms, the dependence – often decisive in the empirical domain – of art on money was posited.

Opposite and complementary negativity

Thus and at the same time, it should not escape us that, in general and in terms of general forms of work and production, it was precisely the opposite that actually happened – contrary to the artistic demands of autonomy and authorial authenticity – and the premise of artistic practices as a liberal craft. That is why a new problem was established concerning the symbolic role of art.

In such a scenario, in one of the poles of the complex duality that instituted the new problem, peasants, artisans and master craftsmen, as well as small and medium-sized traders, lost their own means of work and production and, as a result, all power or productive autonomy. The only possibility left to the legion of formerly expropriated independent producers, like the formerly miserable, was the regime of alienated work: that is, the way in which wage earnings can vary, but never the degree of freedom vis-à-vis configuration and destiny. end of work, the determination of which now belongs exclusively to the employer and owner of capital or purchasing power of other people's workforce. Thus, to a large extent during the course of the 19th century and most of the 20th, in the period in which the productive-symbolic regime of “modern art” prevailed, the paths of work, in the field of arts, and production were separated. in general.

So, in terms of the duality described above, the worker who now had only his labor force to sell began to be classified as “free”, in one of the poles – “free”, of course, as opposed to the regulation linked to guilds of crafts, but also called “free” as opposed to slavery that constituted the dominant form of work in the former colonies until the end of the 19th century. Finally, “free”, nominally, but deprived of all means of production, alienated from all forms of the product of his work and, in these terms, from the point of view of his real condition, a double of the slave – since he remained alienated even from his metabolism.

At the other pole, on the other hand, work in the field of “modern art” – from which it will be hypothesized that it enjoys autonomy according to the most ambitious of critical hypotheses, that of Judgment Critique, by Kant – became the symbolic paradigm of emancipated work (based on the principle of “freedom”, in Kant's historical definition, mentioned above). Paradigm now of the “liberation of work itself from its social negativities (liberation of labor resources from their social negativity) ”,[xii] In the words of Argan, art came to be used from a certain ethical and cognitive angle as a utopian horizon or promise for the rest of humanity – which saw itself barred from any right to self-determination at work and, consequently, also saw itself excluded from the right to conscience, the development of which is linked to the proper exercise of work.

In summary, the contradictory condition of “modern art” – founded on the fundamental proposition of freedom and on the permanent comparison with captive labor in the form of merchandise – was always permeated by such ambivalence. That is to say, it was invariably located in the oscillating condition between open opposition and the derivative and complementary distinction, in short, such a counterpoint, in the face of the system that governs work, production and the appropriation of wealth on a general scale.

 Argan and “modern art”

By projecting the discussion onto another plane, this time concerning the great variety of techniques and artistic forms between antiquity and the modern era, one notes the occurrence of ruptures and leaps, but also signs of long-term structural subsistences (without ignoring , of course, that with regard to the various and different regimes of work in the modern era, it is always necessary to detail and adjust).

One must bear in mind the specificity given by the complexity and variety of situations in the modern era. Thus, if in the scope of the statute of work, as we have seen, it is possible to observe a progress that culminates in the freedom proper to “modern art”, on the other hand, in the field of techniques and forms, the distinctions related to the judgment of progress do not have place. It is obvious that, in the universe of artistic practices, there are no techniques, materials, procedures and forms that are superior to others. This is one of the prejudices that existed in the dens (palaces, churches and academies) of, so to speak, Ancien Régime of art, but which the transition to the new regime of “modern art” swept away. Dealing with art issues must cover these different levels because in all of them there are value creation processes that require specific analyses; It is equally necessary to make a historical judgment that will place one value-mode in contradiction with another, within the same work, one work in front of another, etc.

So far we've pretty much only listed problems. But how to go beyond descriptive and distinctive judgments towards a new synthesis? That is to say, in the field in focus – that is, of art history as an investigation of modes of value –, how to specify the investigative method proposed by Argan in connection with the history of work?

In the first place, as seen at the beginning, its philosophical party or principle is to conceive art conceptually as a productive practice or way of working. As such, according to a clearly Hegelian and Marxist perspective – the one that makes the experience of work an indispensable condition for the mode of consciousness –, art will also be a mode of consciousness or reflective practice insofar as, by clarifying itself as such, it comes to conceive itself as work.

This involves two orders of consequences that call for attention. The first is that, in order to establish the value of a given artistic form, it is essential to situate it in the midst of existing forms of work and production, that is, to compare it with other objective social forms in the historical social formation to which it belongs. An example: when studying carving or Baroque architecture in Portuguese America, it is necessary not only to distinguish their specificities, to demarcate their novelty in the face of tradition and the artistic context, in this case, together with the Baroque and contemporary styles in Europe and in the colonies, but it is also necessary to make a comparison with the slave mode of work in workshops, as with other handicrafts and manufacturing methods.

Second consequence that should be highlighted: the point of view of “modern art” is the one chosen by Argan, among artistic references, to analyze the oceanic vastness of art history. That is, Argan, who in his interpretation of Manet (1832-83) applies Diderot's (1713-84) famous motto – “one must be of one's time [it's not the last time]") [xiii] – observes, in principle, the same directive. “Modern art” is then considered as “its cause”, as the matrix of ideas present in its statements, like the melodic rhythms of a native language.

Carrying out critical-reflective work based on the formative experience provided by “modern art” is what gives the historian the unique ardor of committed reflection; that is to say, the heat of reflective judgment when proceeding with the analysis of past artistic forms, which translates into the power of long-range observation, but close and attentive to detail. In short, Argan observes and speaks in the first person without ceasing to be reflective, as such is the training that “modern art” instilled in him.

However, it is worth insisting that the fact that Argan adopts the point of view of “modern art” is neither a simple case of taste nor a contingent matter. The party of “modern art” is inseparable from his philosophical choice. That is, by conceiving art as work and the latter, in the wake of Hegel and Marx, as a fundamental condition for consciousness, Argan had than prioritizing the experience of “modern art” because only this, among other kinds of art, set himself exclusively as a job - in the sovereign or emancipated sense -, by so conceiving herself according to her most conscious and consequential positions.

Even more, it is because, in the adopted conception, the experience of the ongoing work of emancipation, according to the cognitive conditions proper to free determination, is in itself objectivation and project – that is, reflection on the past, determination of the present and projected intention. for the future –, in short, historical judgment concretized in productive action in the present; It is for this reason, in short, that the history of art has become possible in an effective sense. In other words, possible not as an encomiastic history of personalities or major works – something that already existed since Vasari’s treatise –, but possible and effective as a human science, as a critique of values ​​and an autonomous rational inquiry into the history of cultural contexts and their dynamics. artistic.

In summary, in the critical-materialist platform proposed by Argan – in which the condition of possibility of the critical history of art was instituted, through the work of a synthesis proper to “modern art” –, art and art history converge and intertwine inseparably. The common regulatory idea is the critical judgment which is historical judgment par excellence, or, in Argan's own words, when returning now in Art and Art Criticism, a statement already made in his “History of Art”, “the artistry of the work is nothing other than its historicity [l´artiscità dell'opera non è altra cosa dalla sua storicità] ”[xiv]

* Luiz Renato Martins is professor-advisor of PPG in Visual Arts (ECA-USP). Author, among other books, of The Conspiracy of Modern Art (Chicago, Haymarket/ HMBS) (

** Extract from the first part of the original version (in Portuguese) of chap. 12, “Argan Seminar: art, value and work”, from the book La Conspiration de l'Art Moderne et Other Essais, edition and introduction by François Albera, translation by Baptiste Grasset, Paris, editions Amsterdam (2024, prim. semester, proc. FAPESP 18/26469-9).


[I] GC ARGAN; Art History as City History, trans. PL Capra, São Paulo, Martins Fontes, 1992, pp. 13-4 (; Storia dell'Arte as Storia della Città, a cura di Bruno Contardi, Rome, Riuniti, 1984, p. 19 (

[ii] Rodrigo NAVES, “Preface”, in GC ARGAN, Modern Art / From the Enlightenment to Contemporary Movements, pref. R. Naves, trans. Denise Bottmann and Federico Carotti, São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 1993, p. XIX (

[iii] On the distinction, fundamental in ancient Greece, between the man who ease and the one who manufactured, and the related lack of a term corresponding to “work”, see Jean-Pierre VERNANT, “Work and Nature in Ancient Greece” and “Psychological Aspects of Work in Ancient Greece”, in Myth and Thought among the Greeks, trans. Haiganuch Sarian, São Paulo, Paz e Terra, 2002, pp. 325-48, 349-56 (; « Travail et nature dans la Grèce ancienne » et « Aspects psychologiques du travail dans la Grèce ancienne », dans Mythe et Pensée chez les Grecs, Paris, La Decouverte, 1988, pp. 274-294, 295-301 (

[iv] See Immanuel KANT, “Of Art in General” (paragraph 43 of Judgment Critique), In Kant (II)/ Selected Texts, selection of texts by Marilena Chauí, trans. Rubens Rodrigues Torres Filho, São Paulo, Os Pensadores/ Abril Cultural, 1980, pp. 243-4; Emmanuel KANT, “#43.

[v] The Revolution, after decreeing in 1791 the end of the control of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture over the Salon, opening it to national and foreign artists, in August 1793 definitively abolished and in the different fields all the academies - “last refuge of all aristocracies [dernier refuge de toutes les aristocraties]”, in the words of the painter David, also a Jacobin leader. Cf. Régis MICHEL, “L'Art des Salons”, in Philippe BORDES and R. MICHEL et al., Aux Armes & Aux Arts ! / Les Arts de la Révolution 1789-1799, Paris, Adam Biro, 1988, p. 40 (

[vi] “It was enough for artists, luxury workers, merchants, moneylenders to see their earnings diminish with the revolution, to regret the reign of courtiers, public bloodsuckers (...) and to sigh for the reestablishment of slavery, which made them glimpse their personal advantages in the return of the oppressors of the people, of the squanderers of the public treasury (...) [Les artistes, les ouvriers de luxe, les dealers, les agioteurs n´eurent pas plutôt vu leurs gains diminuer par la révolution, qu´ils regrettèrent le règne des courtisans, des sangsues publiques (…) et qu´ils soupirèrent après le rétablissement de l´esclavage, qui leur faisait entrevoir leurs avantages personnels dans le retour des oppresseurs du peuple, des dilapidateurs du trésor public…]». See J.-P. Marat in L'Ami du Peuple, no. 669, 09.7.1792/XNUMX/XNUMX (, in Michel VOVELLE (ed.), Marat: Textes Choisis, Paris, Éditions Sociales, 1975, p. 219 (

[vii] Thus, for example, David stated at the time when, as a member of the Committee on Public Instruction, he presented to the Convention the proposal for a national jury of the arts: “Citizens … your Committee [of Public Instruction] has considered the arts in all relationships in which they should contribute to the expansion of the progress of the human spirit, to the propagation and transmission to posterity of outstanding examples of the sublime efforts of an immense people, guided by reason and philosophy, bringing to earth the kingdom of freedom, equality and laws./ The arts must therefore contribute powerfully to public instruction, but regenerating themselves: the genius of the arts must be worthy of the people he enlightens; he must always walk accompanied by philosophy, which will not advise him what great and useful ideas.../ For too long tyrants, who dread even the images of virtue, had, by chaining even thought, encouraged the license of morals; the arts at that time only served to satisfy the pride and whim of a few sybarites stuffed with gold; and despotic corporations circumscribed the genius in the narrow circle of their thoughts (...)./ The arts are the imitation of nature in her most beautiful and most perfect; a natural feeling of man throws him to the same object./ It is not just enchanting the eyes that artistic monuments reach their goal, it is penetrating the soul, it is leaving a deep impression in the spirit, similar to reality; it is then that the traits of heroism, of civic virtues, offered to the eyes of the people, will electrify his soul and make him germinate all the passions for glory, the devotion for the salvation of the fatherland. It is therefore necessary that the artist has studied all the impulses of the human race; he must have a great knowledge of nature; it is necessary, in a word, that it be philosopher. Socrates, skillful sculptor; J.-J. Rousseau, good musician; the immortal Poussin, tracing on canvas the most sublime lessons of philosophy, all are witnesses, who prove that the genius of the arts should have no other guide than the flame of reason [Citoyens (…) votre Comité a considéré les arts, sous tous les rapports, qui doivent les faire contribuer à étendre les progrès de l'esprit humain, à propager, et à transmettre à la posterité l'exemple frappant des sublime efforts d'un peuple immense, guidé par la raison et la philosophie, ramenant sur la terre le règne de la liberté, de l´égalité et des lois./ Les arts doivent donc puissament contribuer à l'instruction publique; mais c'est en se régénérant: le génie des arts doit être digne du peuple qu'il éclaire ; il doit toujours marcher accompagné de la philosophie, qui ne lui conseillera que des idées grande et utiles./ Trop longtemps les tyrans, qui redoutent jusqu'aux images des vertus, avaient, en enchaînant jusqu'à la pensée, encouragé la license des moeurs ; les arts ne servaient plus qu'à satisfaire l'orgueil et le caprice de quelques sybarites gorgés d'or; et des corporations despotiques, circonscrivant le génie dans le cercle étroit de leurs pensées (…)/ Les arts sont l'imitation de la nature dans ce qu'elle a de plus beau, dans ce qu'elle a de plus parfait ; un sentiment naturel à l'homme l'attire vers le même objet./ Ce n'est pas seulement en charmant les yeux que les monuments des arts ont atteint le but, c'est en pénétrant l'âme, c'est en faisant sur l'esprit une impression profonde, semblable à la realité : c'est alors que les traits d'heroïsme, de vertus civiques, offerts aux regards du peuple, électriseront son âme, et feront germer en lui toutes les passions de la gloire, de dévouement pour le salut de la patrie. Il faut donc que l'artiste ait étudié tous les ressorts du genre humain; il faut qu'il ait une grande connaissance de la nature; il faut en un mot qu'il soit philosophe. Socrate, skilled sculpteur; Jean-Jacques, bon musicien; l'immortel Poussin, tracent sur la toile les plus sublime leçons de philosophie, sont autant des témoins, qui prouvent que le génie des arts ne doit avoir d'autre guide que le flambeau de la raison (…)]”. At the conclusion of this speech, David proposed a list composed of scholars, artists of all genres and magistrates to form the national jury of the arts. See JL DAVID, apoud Marie-Catherine Sahut, « Témoignages et Documents », in M.-C. Sahut and R. MICHEL, David/ L'Art et le Politique, Paris, Gallimard-NMR, 1989, pp. 159-60; David's speech, extracted from the parliamentary archives, is also quoted by Daniel et Guy WILDENSTEIN, Documents Complémentaires au Catalogs de l´Oeuvre by Louis David, in « Chapitre II – 1789-1797, David et la Révolution », Paris, Fondation Wildenstein, 1973, p. 71; for the same speech, see also EJ DELÉCLUZE, Louis David son École & son Temps/ Souvernirs par EJ DELÉCLUZE (Paris, Didier, 1855), preface et notes by Jean-Pierre Mouilleseaux, Paris, Macula, 1983, pp. 158-59.

[viii] The first edition took place in 1790 during the Constituent Assembly; the second in 1793, year II of the Republic.

[ix] See LR MARTINS, “Traces of Voluptuousness” in this volume; previous version published in ditto, Revolutions: Poetry of the Unfinished, 1789-1848, vol. I, São Paulo, Ideias Baratas/ Sundermann, 2014, pp. 116-8.

[X] See Charles BAUDELAIRE, « Le Musée classique du Bazar Bonne-Nouvelle », O.C., Vol. II, pp. 408-410. Posted in Le Corsaire-Satan (21.091.1846), date of the 53rd.o anniversary of the execution of Louis XVI ( 

[xi] See I. KANT, on. cit., P. 243.

[xii] Cf. GC ARGAN, “Ancora sulla storia dell'arte nelle scuole”, in Occasions of Criticism, a cura di Bruno Contardi, Rome, Riuniti, 1981, p. 139.

[xiii] See Denis DIDEROT apoud GC ARGAN, “Manet e la pittura Italiana”, in idem, From Hogarth to Picasso/ L'Arte Moderna in Europa, Milano, Feltrinelli, 1983, p. 346 (

[xiv] See GC ARGAN, Art and Art Criticism, Lisbon, Editorial Estampa, 1988/ Art and Art Criticism, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 1984, p. 145 (

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