The question about the nature of art, what it is or how it is to be measured/judged, has been asked over and over again by various people that have in turn came up with various answers. It is not an easy question since what most understand from the word "art" is not something unified, at least on the surface. While some take art as an imitation of the world, others take it as a mere expression, not related to the outer world but derived from the inner psyche. This essay will take as its subject the somewhat feeling-oriented and anti-rationale account of art, which is modern art that is called the Avant-garde, by Jean-François Lyotard. Lyotard, in his work The Sublime and The Avant-Garde, talks about the change in our understanding of art through the notion of the sublime, which he claims to be the driving force of the avant-garde. In this essay first Lyotard's account will be explained, through the explanation of his understanding of the sublime and how this notion of sublime affects the world of art. After the explanations of Lyotard's account the question whether it sufficiently explains what art is will be entertained, and it will be shown that his account is both by nature incapable of giving a sufficient explanation, than the idea that perhaps the request of a "sufficient" explanation is out of the question will be entertained.
Lyotard begins his account of the sublime through the notion of "now". Through Barnett Baruch Newman's works and writings, directly he refers to The Sublime is Now, he delves into the notion of "now" and inquires what Newman meant by it. Through Thomas B. Hess's comments on Newman he claims that the "now" Newman means is a "now" that is beyond the grasp of the conscious mind, that is "Newman's now which is no more than now is a stranger to consciousness and cannot be constituted by it.