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Neither Marx nor Engels wrote systematically on aesthetics, although Marx planned to do so in 1841–1842 and again in 1857. As with their ideas on a whole range of topics, their thinking on the arts must be extrapolated mainly from statements made in texts addressing other matters from across their diverse literary remains. It was not until the period of the Third International that an extensive compilation of these statements was made under the direction of Mikhail Lifshitz. (For Lifshitz, see .) The fruits of this labor were a sequence of Soviet bloc publications that include and . These remain useful, but —which was not produced under the shadow of Stalinism—is a more balanced presentation. exhaustively traces Marx’s readings in literature and his literary opinions throughout his life; it also restores to them the historical dimension largely absent from the Soviet anthologies. Marx’s statements on the visual arts are far less extensive than those on literature, but his judgments on the relative value of different style epochs were linked in important ways with his larger historical perspective, as shows. remains impressive in its nonjudgmental presentation of a wide array of thinkers associated with the Second and Third Internationals as well as with the Western Marxist tradition. It also has a useful bibliography. To date the only book-length presentation of the history of Marxist art history is , which includes essays on five of the most important and influential Marxist art historians, together with three on Marxist thinkers whose work has had a particularly profound influence within the discipline (Benjamin, Lefebvre, and Morris), and a further three evaluating the contributions of the art-historical New Left.

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Traditionalist scholars also found it difficult to credit the depreciationof political history by scholars whose commitment to radical politics wasobvious. Just as no one reading the Communism in American Life series couldmiss the anti-Communist commitment of its authors, few reading the revisionistscould miss their radical political orientation. A number of these historianswere also associated with or publish in those journals (Radical America,Radical History Review, Science and Society, Socialist Review,and Marxist Perspectives) that fused scholarship with a radicalpolitical perspective. Many revisionists explicitly defined their historicalwork as part of a radical agenda. Paul Lyons, an early revisionist whose 1982 PhiladelphiaCommunists, 1936-1956 many cited as a model ‘new historians’ grass-rootsstudy, stated that he regarded Communists as "people committed to a visionof social justice and a strategy of social change that make them my politicalforebears. And like my biological parents, they merit a love that includes--infact, requires--recognition of their faults and errors. Needless to say, such alove also rests on an honoring." He stated further that he regarded hisbook as a "contribution" toward the achievement of "socialistcultural hegemony." In his 1985 essay, Isserman allowed that the newhistorians had their origins in radical political commitment. He maintained,however, that their perspective later shifted away from a partisan "searchfor a usable past."[30] In his case that was true, but other revisionistshave retained their commitment to blending history with political action. In1994 Allan Wald, a revisionist who has published numerous essays and books oncultural history, most notably The New York Intellectuals: The Rise andDecline of the Anti-Stalinist Left from the 1930s to the 1980, wrote that:

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