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 As a result, some of the materials presented here may reflect outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent views and opinions due to pervasive systemic intolerance.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 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.