Extract from - Marx and engels -On literature and art
when developing their theory of Aesthetics, Marx and Engels naturally based themselves on the achievements of their predecessors . But the main aesthetic problems - and above all the problem of the relationship between art and reality - were solved by them in a fundamentally new way, on the basis of materialist dialectics. Idealist asethics consider art as a reproduction of the ideal ,standing over and above reality. The origin of any art form ,its development ,flowering,and decay ,all remained incomprehensible to the art theoreticians and historians of the pre-Marxian period, in as much as they studied these in isolation from man's social existence .
Marx and Engels considered it absolutely impossible to understand art and literature proceeding only from their internal law of development .In their opinion ,the essence ,origin,development,and social role of art could only be understood through analysis of the social system as a whole , within which the economic factor - the development of productive forces in complex interaction with production relations- plays the decisive role .Thus art ,as defined by Marx and Engels ,is one of the forms of social consciousness and it therefore follows that the reasons for its changes should be sought in the social existence of man.