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New Left Review I/23, January-February 1964

Introduction to ‘Motifs’

Throughout the world, art and art criticism are perplexingly fluid. It is at this moment that socialist artists and art critics can intervene decisively, staking out the arena for debate, indicating and achieving the next steps forward. In this section of New Left Review we shall publish a series of short studies, covering all the arts, which, we hope, will bring the confusion into focus and enable us to understand more fully the interpretative problems which confront the critic and the creative problems which confront the artist. We shall pay special attention to practising, initiating artists—it is in their work that the problems are most sharply posed. We begin with studies of John Cage, Samuel Fuller and Cecil Taylor—a composer, a film director and a jazz pianist. We shall also recapitulate, from time to time, the efforts of artists consciously on the political left to relate coherently their political, social and artistic preoccupations. But many of the problems which face the vanguard artist face socialist and non-socialist alike—it would be wrong therefore to consider socialist artists exclusively or to demand a socialist vanguard in a vacuum, abstracted by its socialism from the intrinsic dilemmas of art.

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New Left Review, ‘Introduction to 'Motifs'’, NLR I/23: £3

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