This paper traces the complex relations of György Lukács to visual art and aesthetics, from his early writings through his engagement with artistic politics in the post-World War II ‘people’s democracy’ transitional period and during the Stalinist dictatorship. In one sense, Lukács seems obsolete for contemporary art and aesthetics, as a philosopher and critic with an out-of-fashion aesthetic theory, justifying a canon of works opposed even to the mainstream of the 20th century modernism, and deployed in the service of a cultural politics of Soviet and Eastern Bloc socialism now seen as historically superseded and discredited. In another sense, Lukács’s non-contemporaneity may been seen through the dispersed reception of his work, particularly across the Cold War East–West divide, in which different moments of Lukács’s oeuvre were picked up and developed in divergent ways. Given these multiple contexts of reception, the author and thinker ‘György Lukács’ could never be wholly contemporary with himself, but always signified a variable complex of his current writing as well as the afterlife of earlier phases of his work. Lastly, there is an additional sense of ‘non-contemporaneity’ that is associated especially with Lukács’s one-time friend and ally Ernst Bloch, for whom being non-identical with one’s time implied a reserve of potentiality not yet realized, but latent within the inheritance of culture. With reference to László Lakner’s works based on Lukács’s books, I conclude with the possibility that the ‘non-contemporaneity’ of Lukács may yet have something to offer contemporary art and aesthetics.