[N]ew tendencies take on a more and more violent character, alternating between hope and despair. The artistic schools of the last few decades—cubism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism—follow each other without reaching a complete development. Art, which is the most complex part of culture, the most sensitive and at the same time the least protected, suffers most from the decline and decay of bourgeois society.
The decline of bourgeois society means an intolerable exacerbation of social contradictions, which are transformed inevitably into personal contradictions, calling forth an ever more burning need for a liberating art. Furthermore, a declining capitalism already finds itself completely
incapable of offering the minimum conditions for the development of
tendencies in art which correspond, however little, to our epoch.
Social conditions are, as we know, determined by conditions of production. And when a work was criticized from a materialist point of view, it was customary to ask how this work stood vis-a-vis the social relations of production of its time... Rather than ask, “What is the attitude of a work to the relations of production of its time?” I should like to ask, “What is its position in them?” This question directly concerns the function the work has within the literary relations of production of its time. It is concerned, in other words, directly with the literary technique of works.
The aesthetic force of production is the same as that of productive labor and has the same teleology; and what may be called aesthetic relations of production—all that in which the productive force is embedded and in which it is active—are sedimentations or imprintings of social relations of production. Art’s double character as both autonomous and fait social [social fact] is incessantly reproduced on the level of its autonomy. [...] The basic levels of experience that motivate art are related to those of the objective world from which they recoil. The unsolved antagonism of reality return in artworks as immanent problems of form.
Critical evaluation, analysis, and research on contemporary political art works.