Marcuse, Moore & Adorno on Art: Freedom and Oppression

by Beauchamp Art

“Art reveals the possibilities for a happier civilization, but it does so through acts of negation, in memories of oppression and protests against the existing state of things. Marcuse wrote, “The artistic imagination shapes the ‘unconscious memory’ of the liberation that failed, of the promise that was betrayed.”


“Reflecting on artistic protest against repression, Marcuse quotes Adorno: “in a state of unfreedom, art can sustain the image of freedom only in the negation of unfreedom.” The aesthetic dimension represents the possibilities of freedom and pleasure by confronting the alienation produced by a repressive society—by negating what is, art illuminates what could be.”


“So long as it maintained its capacity for negation, Marcuse argued that “every authentic work of art would be revolutionary, i.e. subversive of perception and understanding, an indictment of the established reality, the appearance of the image of liberation.”

Herbert Marcuse & Ryan Moore & Theodor W. Adorno

Moore, Ryan (2016) Eros and Civilization for a Jobless Future: Herbert Marcuse and the Abolition of Work. Heathwood Institute and Press [Online] Accessed 11.04.2016 Citing Marcuse, Herbert (1966). Eros and Civilization: A Philosophical Inquiry into Freud. Boston: Beacon Press: 144

Marcuse, Herbert (1978). The Aesthetic Dimension. Boston: Beacon Press.