I will be giving a talk with that title at California State University, East Bay, on October 14. Thanks to Professor Stephen Schmanske and the Smith Center for inviting me.
My theme will be the relationship between art and liberal cultures, focusing on economically free cultures especially.
One part of my talk will discuss how economic liberalism is empowering for artists both materially and psychologically, and part of my evidence for that will be historical: Why were the greatest of the great eras in art history classical Athens, Renaissance Florence and Venice, the Dutch Golden Age, Paris in the late nineteenth century. Why not, say, Sparta in the 5th century BCE? Or Milan in the 15th century? Or Denmark in the 17th? Or Portugal in the 19th?
Another part of my talk will take up the perplexing question of why, since the late 19th century, so many artists have taken anti-business and anti-capitalist stances. Pablo Picasso is representative here, having said, famously, “The merchant — there’s the enemy.” A fascinating set of adversarial (and self-destructive) issues there.
The lecture is based on my current book project, The Fate of Art under Capitalism, which I discussed in an earlier post.