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Ayn Rand quote explanation

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"both [arts] are concretized representations of the philosophy of their respective cultures" ("The Psycho-Epistemology of Art," The Romantic Manifesto, 19).

Could someone explain this quote to me? I understand that Ayn Rand is claiming an artist's culture affects his metaphysical value-judgements therefore his selective re-creation of reality as art, but . . . can an artist's art really represent the philosophy of their respective cultures? Would that imply art as merely a selective re-creation of cultural identity?

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No, Rand is not positing a deterministic relationship between an artist's work and his culture. While an artist may be inspired by a culture's values and seek to concretize them, that doesn't mean he is a mere mouthpiece of dominant philosophic trends. Artists choose to recreate those aspects of reality they consider important - which may or may not agree with the dominant views.

Having said that, Rand does see artistic trends as a sort of "cultural barometer." Since art consist of value judgments, analyzing popular themes and stylistic choices in art can be a good indicator of where a society stands, philosophically. But this is a "statistical" analysis - it indicates a culture's values, not those of any particular artist.

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As Zoid was saying, artistic trends are closer to a barometer of the status of society more than anything. Consider which movies are popular, which video games, what music. Not that popularity indicates value or necessarily that all artists portray particular ideas, but it will indicate what sort of values many people in a culture have. An artist would represent the philosophy of their culture to the extent that they agree with the culture at large. Artistic trends indicate a lot about a culture, which is why I love pointing out the differences between sculptures in ancient Greek culture and sculptures during the dark ages (particularly the gothic era). Art wouldn't be placed in high esteem for being used with grand architecture unless what was represented was held in high esteem, too. That's how art can represent a culture.

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