J.-F. Lyotard described several transformations in art history and pointed out, that the motive power of contemporary art, i.e. modern and postmodern arts, is the sublime. What does this esthetical category mean, if not that to what the common concepts, such as inspiring, admirable, or the transcendent refer? The attention is paid to Kant’s articulation of the category in his Critique of Judgment. Points of identity as well as of difference are searched between Kant’s conception and the reflections on the problem by J.-F. Lyotard, who drew on B. Newman and provided an ontological interpretation of the sublime.