The phrase “art for art’s sake” comes from the French “l’art pour l’art,” coined by a French philosopher in the early 19th century. Although it had slightly different interpretations, “art for art’s sake” represented the idea that art should be valued purely for its aesthetic qualities, separated from any political, social, or moral meanings. It was a radical idea that challenged stifling moral and societal attitudes of the day. The philosophy applied not only to the visual arts but also to literature, music, performance, and other arts.
Today, the phrase has evolved into the general idea that art should not serve any purpose beyond itself. Critics of the idea believe that art without purpose or meaning is but an empty shell. There are those who cannot help but to create from a place of deep knowing and truth within themselves that generates inherently meaningful works of art that shows us something about humanity, about life, and about the society we live in. Aurore Dupin, a 19th century French novelist, wrote, “Art for art’s sake is an empty phrase. Art for the sake of truth…that is the faith I am searching for.” Walk a few steps in these artists’ shoes and discover something new and unfamiliar that you’ve never thought about or experienced.
The MPR Archive contains some content that may be harmful or difficult to view. These and all items across MPR’s history are preserved and made available to the public as a historical record. As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions due to pervasive systemic intolerance. In addition, some interviews and recordings relate to violent, triggering, or graphic events which are preserved for their historical significance.
If you discover harmful or offensive language in catalog records and metadata on the Archive Portal, please contact us through the form above. The MPR Archive is committed to using inclusive, antiracist, non-derogatory language when creating catalog records and describing our collections. However, we acknowledge that some of our descriptions contain language that is euphemistic, racist, homophobic, sexist, ableist or that demeans the humanity of the people we describe. We are dedicated to correcting those records as we find them, and we ask you to contact us if you have encountered any harmful language in any of our catalog records.
We acknowledge that we are often describing communities of which we are not a part, and many of these communities are historically marginalized and underrepresented in the archives. We recognize our responsibility to describe our collections and their creators respectfully and carefully. We also recognize that we may sometimes fail and are committed to a process of constant learning, reflection, and improvement.
(This collection was curated by Judy K., Fall 2021 Archives Intern)
October 18, 2000 - MPR’s Katherine Lanpher talks with highly acclaimed gay poet and memoirist Mark Doty. The two discuss his second memoir “Firebird.” Doty reads from his book.
March 26, 2004 - A new play at the Children's Theatre Company (CTC) portrays the tension and occasional conflict between Somali immigrants and Black-Americans. "Snapshot Silhouette" examines this cultural clash through the eyes of two 12-year-old girls, one Somali, one Black-American. One of the CTC's goals is to help launch a dialogue between the two communities in the Twin Cities. Minnesota Public Radio's Chris Roberts reports.
April 30, 2004 - In recent years, Minnesotans have placed increased emphasis on multiculturalism. Still, there's one group that often feels lost in the deluge of diversity. Deaf advocates say Minnesota's non-hearing community is three times as large as some other communities, but they say few people recognize its significant contributions to the culture. As Minnesota's Public Radio's Nikki Tundel found out, an exhibit at St. Paul's aND gallery is hoping to change that.
October 1, 2008 - MPR’s Chris Roberts reports on the appearance of sidewalk poetry being created throughout the city as a public art project designed to bring more poetry into everyday life. Roberts interviews Marcus Young, the creator of the project, as well as, one of the poets and other residents, about the concrete verse penned by St. Paulites.
March 30, 2012 - A photography exhibit at the Whittier Gallery in Minneapolis aims to showcase young Somali men who are improving the lives of others in the Twin Cities. MPR’s Nikki Tundel meets the Somali-American photographer, Mohamud Mumin, behind the exhibit and catches up with some of his subjects.
February 20, 2014 - MPR’s Kerri Miller has a conversation with Lou Bellamy, co-artistic director of Penumbra Theatre, and Ifa Bayeza, playwright of “The Ballad of Emmett Till,” about the themes of the play and its relevance to current tragic events concerning young men of color.
January 30, 2015 - Anton Treuer grew up on the Leech Lake reservation with a deep interest in history and language. He writes in the introduction to one of his books on Native history: "The borderland I grew up in was more than an awkward physical nexus of races and communities." Today-a conversation about how that "nexus" still influences his work and writing.
April 13, 2015 - For the 40th anniversary since the first Hmong family settled in Minnesota, MPR’s Tom Weber interviews three Hmong-American artists, spoken word and hip hop artist Tou Saiko Lee, painter Cy Thao, and writer Kao Kalia Yang. They discuss the value of the arts, through which personal and cultural pasts are melded with their present lives.
July 29, 2015 - Award-winning author Alexs Pate discusses how his experiences as a Black-American man influence his writing and move him to explore themes of guilt and innocence — along with hope and bitterness. Pate is the author of five novels, including the best-selling Amistad.
August 4, 2015 - MPR’s Marianne Combs reports on Penumbra’s Summer Institute which focuses on social justice and activism.