ARTS & SOCIETIES
 

LETTER OF SEMINAR 34

Centre d’Histoire de Sciences Po

 
 
 

TOCQUEVILLE AND THE ARTS IN DEMOCRACY

Alexis de Tocqueville by Théodore Chassériau, oil on canvas, 1850.

Lucien Jaume
Equality’s Effects on the Arts, According to Tocqueville

Françoise Mélonio
On the Arts in Democracy




Editorial Director: Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Editorial Staff: Elodie Antoine and Cécile Pichon-Bonin
Translator: David Ames Curtis

PREVIOUS LETTERS

THE INFLUENCE OF THE SAINT-SIMONIANS AND THE IDEA OF ART IN THE VANGUARD OF THE SOCIAL REFORM

BODY MORALITY

DANDIES

The Model Child

THE BEAUTIFUL AND THE USEFUL

Photographs by amateurs

The market, at the start

art in the republic

the voyage of the avant-gardes

Major exhibitions

WHAT IS SOCIAL ART ?

PRIMITIVISMS

realisms

JOSEPH BEUYS : A SHAMAN'S FACTORY ?

the Artist and the philosopher

appropriations

THE OPACITIES OF THE TECHNOLOGY

Alternatives to the art market in new york

genius

PREHISTORIES

POSTWAR

MONEY

Icons

THE POWER OF ARTISTS

values in formation

nominalism

ANCIENT ROME

on evaluation

new soviet fashions

POLICIES OF THE REAL




 
EDITORIAL

 


 
       The principal thesis of the second volume of Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is that the dominant passion of modern societies is equality. One of its effects would be the “softening of customs,” but it would also engender cultural upheaval and an upending of established cultural objects. For, if it is really aristocratic inequality that has encouraged the creation of works that are considered to be major, democratic society, with its egalitarian calling, would on the contrary be driven toward a culture of entertainment that goes off in search of what is new and easy. That is why Tocqueville saw modern societies as unsuited to the production of significant works of art, citizens there being incapable of elaborating reasonable criteria of evaluation.
       While we often see art as a force of opposition (above or alongside public opinion), Tocqueville thus envisages it, on the contrary, as an object that is representative of the general spirit of a society. Great experts on Tocqueville’s thought, Françoise Mélonio and Lucien Jaume retrace for us the point of view of this writer, not an art enthusiast but someone concentrated on democracy and its effects on the arts.


Laurence Bertrand Dorléac



Letter published with the support of the Foundation of France

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