The Politics Of Art Throughout History

2187 words - 9 pages

The Politics of Art Throughout History

The Politics of Art Throughout History
John A Kenny

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This form of art was most heavily used prior to the Renaissance, due to the low literacy rate of the general public. Propaganda art usually supports some cause or agenda, and sometimes acts a coercive tool to get people to support that cause. More often than not the cause or agenda portrayed in Propaganda art is driven by a government or political power figure. Protest art is some ways is almost anti-Propaganda art, in that it is usually a response by the general public to some form of government action that the artist views as tyrannical. Protest art usually, but not always portrays some sort of message of freedom, and liberty. Satire uses humor to make a point. Many times some form is dichotomy surrounding a subject is illustrated to highlight some point other point about the subject. Absurdities are also used for the same purpose, caricatures and cartoons are good examples of this concept. “Artists do not create in a vacuum, they are indisputably coupled to the society and times in which they work. It may well be that an artist can realize aesthetic triumphs while ignoring society, but willful unconcern regarding social matters is also a political position.” [ (Vallen, 2004) ]
Byzantine Art as Propaganda (547 AD)
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Much of the artwork prior to the Renaissance typically fits into the Sociopolitical Art category. During this time period, very few people knew how to read, and most of the scholars were connected to the church. The church either directly or indirectly controlled most of the money, and flow of political and scientific ideas. It used art as a method of conveying religious teachings, and also as a method maintaining this control. The “Emperor Justinian I and his retinue of officials, soldiers and clergy” portrays the idea of the greatness and splendor of the church, and by extension the greatness of Justinian himself. The main ideas seem to be that (1) God is omniscient and omnipotent, (2) the clergy is God’s representatives on earth, and that (3) Justinian himself has been ordained by God Himself to be ruler of the people.
As“Maguire has pointed out more than one such interpretation may be correct, because the same image could be designed to have several meanings. Specifically, he notes that the mosaics of S. Vitale "celebrate the victories of Christ and of the emperor at the same time."(7) Certainly, the messages that Christ is powerful and that the emperor has a share in Christ's power are compatible.” [ (Andreescu-Treadgold & Treadgold, 1997) ]
Satire on Popery, 1555
(Anonymous)
The Satire on Popery definitely fits into the category of Satire. To a lesser degree it also fits into the Protest art category. This painting was done during the Reformation period. The Reformation period happened at a time when the literacy rate was beginning to climb as a result of the introduction of the Gutenberg printing press. People began to think for themselves, and question the teachings and authority of the Catholic...

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