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The Artist as Both a Revolutionary and a Propagandist

  • Traditionally art was a propaganda tool for the state and the church
  • At some point during the 19th century art became a free expression of the artist
  • This was the same era when science was becoming the realm of the inventor
  • Instead of providing answers (God is great, the state is great) art started asking questions
  • Art became increasingly politicized because it challenged the political dogmas
  • Therefore the state became increasingly hostile to the arts
  • Some regimes tried to enslave the arts and return to the old paradigm of art as a propaganda tool (communism and fascism)
  • Some regimes simply de-funded the arts as they became destabilizing social factors (e.g., Western democracies during the Cold War)
  • The religious and political establishments still treat contemporary art as a destabilizing and useless part of society, with a harmful effect on young people
  • However, once an art movement becomes established and no longer represents rejection of the regime, but rather support for the regime, the state embraces it into its museums.
  • The revolutionary becomes an involuntary propagandist
  • Museums in the USA attract more visitors than theme parks and sporting events combined (850 million people in 2012) at the same time that funding from the National Endowment for the Arts has been declining (it reached a peak in 1992) and at the same time that enrollment in liberal arts colleges have been shrinking
Proof-edited by Alexander Altaras