The art-work of the future

“the activation of the consciousness attained by Science, the portrayal of the Life that it has learnt to know, the impress of this life’s Necessity and Truth, is—Art.

Man will never be that which he can and should be, until his Life is a true mirror of Nature, a conscious following of the only real Necessity, the inner natural necessity, and is no longer held in subjugation to an outer artificial counterfeit,—which is thus no necessary, but an arbitrary power. Then first will Man become a living man; whereas till now he carries on a mere existence, dictated by the maxims of this or that Religion, Nationality, or State.—In like manner will Art not be the thing she can and should be, until she is or can be the true, conscious image and exponent of the real Man, and of man’s genuine, nature-bidden life; until she therefore need no longer borrow the conditions of her being from the errors, perversities, and unnatural distortions of our modern life.”

– Richard Wagner “The Art-Work of the Future”


Remembering the brief skimming of Wagner’s essays I had done a couple semesters ago made me go back to the one essay I still had saved on my computer. I decided to start from the beginning and simply read the first few pages, though sincerely, this time. I was ecstatic upon reading his philosophy. In short, he asserts that true art work must reflect or come from the connectedness between man and all of natural being; that “art” will be tainted if it is created by those who are interested in solely superficial living. Such an ideology reflects an artist who is interested in that thing which transcends the physical manifestation or illusion of artistic pursuit and pierces to the seed of creative aspiration. This is not some over- intellectualization or extreme ideology but a distillation and understanding of “Art’s” true use and necessity to all people.


As I continue to read more, I may have an ongoing commentary for this essay. I encourage all to just check it out. It can be found as a free pdf online.