The claim that art has no role to play in what is of highest significance for modernity is often attributed to Hegel. Against this interpretation, the paper makes the following claims: First, Hegel does not claim that art is simply superseded in modernity by rational reflection. Artistic expression remains an essential human need in modernity. Second, Hegel's ideal of modern ethical life in which values shape human nature has an essentially aesthetic shape. Third, Hegel describes the foundation of a new shared form of life - in particular, the ideal ethical life of the future - not as a rational act of legislation, but as the politically creative work of art. This idea appears in Hegel's early thinking and shapes his mature thought of the figure of the world-historical individual. Finally, Hegel turns to art to give life to the tragedy of the foundation of the state in his discussions of Sophocles' Antigone and Schiller's Wallenstein.