Contemporary art is obsessed with the politics of identity. Visit any contemporary gallery, museum or theatre, and chances are the art on offer will be principally concerned with race, gender, sexuality, power and privilege.The quest for truth, freedom and the sacred has been thrust aside to make room for identity politics. Mystery, individuality and beauty are out; radical feminism, racial grievance and queer theory are in. The result is a drearily predictable culture and the narrowing of the space for creative self-expression and honest criticism.Sohrab Ahmari's book is a passionate cri de coeur against this state of affairs. The New Philistines takes readers deep inside a cultural scene where all manner of ugly, inept art is celebrated so long as it toes the ideological line, and where the artistic glories of the Western world are revised and disfigured to fit the rigid doctrines of identity politics.The degree of politicisation means that art no longer performs its historical function, as a mirror and repository of the human spirit - something that should alarm not just art lovers but anyone who cares about the future of liberal civilisation.
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"Sohrab Ahmari's polemic against the contemporary art world is angry, witty, uncompromising, and utterly unanswerable... Tremendously entertaining and thought-provoking." - Andrew Roberts, Commentary; "An elegant and necessary salvo in a new culture war." - Quillette; "An ambitious new series that tackles the controversy of the topics explored with a mixture of intelligence and forthright argument from some excellent writers." The Observer; "This short book is reminiscent of pre-novelist Tom Wolfe books like The Painted Word and From Bauhaus to Our House, which told amusing but depressing tales about lefty politics making their way into the art world, making both art and politics worse in the process." - National Review
About Sohrab Ahmari
Sohrab Ahmari is an editorial writer for the Wall Street Journal, based in London. He joined the Journal in New York as an assistant books editor in 2012. Prior to that, he earned a law degree at Northeastern University in Boston, served as a non-resident fellow at the Henry Jackson Society and completed a two-year commitment to Teach for America. In addition to the Journal, Sohrab's writing has appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Weekly Standard, Commentary and Dissent, among many other publications. He has testified before the British Parliament and appears regularly on broadcast media on both sides of the Atlantic, including the BBC, Sky News, France 24, Deutsche Welle and the Fox News Channel.
The New Philistines by Sohrab Ahmari
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