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The Art Of Politics And The Politics Of Art (A Brief History)

Art and politics have been inextricably linked through the ages and there is always a direct correlation between different artistic movements and the politics of the country and even the ever-shifting sands of world politics. The relationship between the two is at the same time complex and yet direct. All artists, whether they be fine artists, filmmakers, musicians or writers are influenced by the world around them and the changes in politics. Do artistic endeavours and movements influence the political arena as strongly?

“Occupy” – Art and Politics in the New Millennium

credit: juhansonin

The political movement “Occupy” has been heralded as one of the most recent and most poignant examples of art being used as a political and social tool. Poster art, pop art and highly satirical comic art is being used to drive home the message of the worldwide Occupy movement. Shepard Fairey, the renowned street artist designed the official “invitation poster” for the start of the protests across the globe.

Using highly politicised imagery the poster places the movement into the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement itself. There have been hundreds of artists who have been inspired by the protest against big business and, who in turn, inspire protesters through their art. The Occupy Art movement has become so big, so important and so definitive of the politics behind the protest that august art institutions such as the Smithsonian, the MOMA and Tate Britain have started collecting examples of the street and poster art that have so keenly come to represent Occupy.


Propaganda, Politics and Picasso

“Guernica” by Picasso (1937). Creative Commons approved, from Wikipedia

The collaboration and partnership between art and politics is not a modern movement. Since the 18th century, art has been used to depict, display and deconstruct the political movement of the day. Jacques Louis David presented a set of propaganda art works to the world. William Blake espoused the value of science and rationalism in his work. The reaction to the Age of Enlightenment was the Romantic era, and indeed each art movement is replaced by another, much like the political world.

The grand masters of Impressionism themselves were fighting for change during late 1870’s. The group, led by and named for Claude Monet, had a direct affect on the politics in France and England during these years. Expressionism, Fauvism and Modernism have all had their role to play in shaping and recording history throughout the world. Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica” is a protest and depiction of the bombing of a small Spanish town in 1937, highlighting the Basque political movement and the troubles of politics in Spain.

Whether it is the artists themselves who are inspired by politics and the world around them or the world that is changed by the inspiration of the artists and their art, politics and art will be forever linked and use each other to change, highlight and bring our consciousness and conscience to the fore.


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