Perspectives Art and Propaganda in the Twentieth-Century

ISBN: 0810927136
ISBN 13: 9780810927131
By: Toby Clark Toclark

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About this book

The relationship of art to politics has always been an uneasy one, and never more so than in the 20th century. Governments have sought to control, censor, or bend art to their own purposes; artists have resisted and subverted such efforts. But what happens when artists work on behalf of a political program? When does art become propaganda? Is art tainted, diminished, or elevated by its political content?Toby Clark argues that propaganda art appears in many guises, and that the desire to persuade is not always at odds with aesthetic aims. He examines these many forms: the state propaganda of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Stalin's Soviet Union; democratic governments' representation of enemies in wartime; and anti-government protest art around the world, uncovering the complex rhetoric, high beauty, and ambiguous role of art that dwells in the political realm.

Reader's Thoughts

Jo Bennie

Clark writes a comprehensive coverage of art propaganda in chronological form. The first chapter charts propaganda's beginnings in suffrage, the avant garde and revolution, chapter 2 covers Fascism, chapter 3 Communism, chapter 4 Wartime, and chapter 5 up to the present day, protest art, Vietnam, AIDS and feminism. In some ways this is a really good book, covering the art of propaganda through its most potent forms in Nazi Germany, wartime Britain and communist USSR to the present day, but I felt it was also a bit lacking. As a book about art I would have lot more commentary on how the pieces of art worked, explanation of symbolism, interpretation of the use of light, colour etc. Clark just gives historical background to each piece which is useful but incomplete. The last chapter fails to address street art, a major form of protest. Also, there is not enough coverage of the monumental statuary and architecture of fascism and communism. Could have been a much better book.

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