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.
(This collection was curated by Judy K., Fall 2021 Archives Intern)
August 4, 2015 - MPR’s Marianne Combs reports on Penumbra’s Summer Institute which focuses on social justice and activism.
October 23, 2015 - MPR’s Doualy Xaykaothao has a conversation with two Native-American artists, playwright Rhiana Yazzie and writer R. Vincent Moniz Jr.
November 6, 2015 - MPR’s Marianne Combs profiles a group of six Black women Minnesota writers Carolyn Holbrook, Lori Young-Williams, Andrea Jenkins, Shannon Gibney, Tish Jones, and Mary Moore Easter. They gathered at the The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis for a reading series called “More Than a Single Story.” Series was created by Carolyn Holbrook.
June 7, 2017 - MPR's Marianne Combs interviews poet and spoken word artist Bao Phi about his new book of poetry "Thousand Star Hotel," in which he reflects on his youth living in Minneapolis and discusses the legacy of trauma.
January 31, 2018 - MPR’s Marianne Combs reports on the latest production of Twenty Percent Theater Company’s "The Naked I." The show brings together the stories and experiences of people who self-identify as trans, queer, or otherwise gender non-conforming.
February 26, 2018 - MPR's Marianne Combs interviews poet Bao Phi and illustrator Thi Bui about their children's book, "A Different Pond," a 2018 Caldecott Honor Book. The book depicts a father and son going on early morning fishing trips to a pond in Minneapolis, and a father's story about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam. Combs also interviews Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, Professor of Library and Information Science of St. Catherine University, regarding diversity in children's literature. In the latter half of the segment, Dr. Dahlen also answers listener questions.