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André Malraux and Art

An Intellectual Revolution

Derek Allan

This study provides a step by step explanation of André Malraux's theory of art. Drawing on his major works, such as The Voices of Silence and The Metamorphosis of the Gods, it examines key topics such as the nature of artistic creation, the psychology of our response to art, the birth of the notion of "art" itself and its transformation after Manet, the birth and death of the idea of beauty, the seriously neglected question of the relationship between art and the passage of time, the emergence of our "first universal world of art," the contemporary role of the art museum and the musée imaginaire, and the contentious question of the relationship between art and history.


Rejecting negative criticisms from writers such as Maurice Merleau-Ponty and E. H. Gombrich, the study argues that Malraux offers us a theory of art that is fully coherent and highly illuminating. In addition, the analysis shows that he presents a radical challenge to the traditional explanations of art inherited from the Enlightenment that have dominated Western thinking for some three hundred years. In short, the study unveils a way of understanding art that is nothing short of an intellectual revolution.