Monday, January 31, 2011

Good Art Outlasts Political Power

I was sitting, mindlessly passing the time, not focusing on anything particularly, when a thought came into my mind that I decided to expand upon and develop further. “Good Art outlasts the powerful people of the time the art was created.”

First example that comes to mind is anything Leonardo da Vinci created verses the religious power brokers that enforced their interpretations of religious laws and almost burned him at the stake for following science facts.
Conclusion: The Mona Lisa is one of the most visited artworks and is revered by many to be one of the best paintings of all time. Oh by the way, the sun does not revolve around the earth and the earth is not flat. So much for the religious inquisitions.

Pablo Picasso’s portrayal of the “Bombing of Guernica” by German bombers during the Spanish Civil War has more of a current message and meaning than Francisco Franco Bahamonde, who sanctioned the bombing act, emerging as the leader of the Nationalists government after winning the civil war with military aid from Italy and Nazi Germany.
Conclusion: The Spanish people are glad Franco is gone and requested the artwork be returned to Spain for permanent display.

The movie, “Citizen Kane,” is still revered with more reverence and admiration than the once powerful man it parodied, William Randolph Hearst.
Conclusion: Conservatively Political Hearst could never get elected to any political office, and the movie is still being played and enjoyed on Classic Movie TV.

These are just a few examples, and I am sure my friend, Microdot, can come up with many, many, many, more. So I would like to know everyone’s thoughts and examples on this subject.


  1. It's interesting that art that was "state sponsored" like the neo classicism of Italian Fascism, the grandiose architecture of the Third Reich, or the propaganda art of Russia and China...and for really bad propaganda art, check out North Korea, most of this stuff is instantly disposable and if it is interesting is simply the kitsch content.
    So much major big money contemporary art is simply disposable, a comment on the market. Who will remember Jeff Koons in 50 years except as a curiosity...why the hell did anyone pay 250,000 dollars for a giant replication of a balloon dog?
    Or Damien Hirst? His 100,000 dollar jewel encrusted skulls are more of a comment on the greed of our time and the disposable esthetics of Bling rather than art.
    It's the haunting images and messages left by anonymous artists on urban walls that will last as powerful statements. Sheperd Fairey or A guy like Banksy, whose face you will never see will have more impact on the way we are remembered esthetically in the future.

    Obviously, that is just the surface of my feeling about art, and what lasts. Great ideas last. Revolutionary concepts last. An acute gesture at the exact moment last longer than any shoddy archietctural whimsy.
    Marcel Duchamps bicycle wheel mounted on a stool, his act of submitting a porcelein urinal to The Paris Exhibition in the early 20th century had more of an impact on art and how we see art today in the early 21st century than any of the studio trained society painters of his time.

  2. Hello Professor Microdot,
    Prefect, Perfect, Perfect!!! This is exactly the input I was asking and looking for.

    Glad you brought up Banksy……Love Banksy!! I too believe that Banksy’s impact on the way we are remembered will be lasting. When I get done this comment, I will be looking up Sheperd Fairey.

    I think your closing statement sums it up perfectly. Great ideas last. Revolutionary concepts last.

    As a matter of fact, it was just the other day I made it a point to have my 16 year old daughter look up and read about the Dada Movement….because I thought it was important for her well rounded education.

    OK, now for the rest of you. Microdot has raised the bar pretty high. I want to here your input and thoughts now.

  3. I defer to my Frankish friend in all things artistic.

  4. The problem is there are some trends in art which come and go. For example, Telemann was more well known than Bach for a time. Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists were seen as radical in their time.

    On the other hand, most people know Botticelli, Fra Fillipo Lippi, Michaelangelo, and DaVinci. The Northern rulers are forgotten as Memling, Brueghels, Bosch, and so on are remembered.

  5. Hello Laci,
    "Pre-Raphaelites and Impressionists were seen as radical in their time."

    Good point and exactly the input I am looking for with this posting. Yes, it was considered amateurish garbage in its day but as time went on, impressionist art like Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night (art of a mad lunatic) and later modern artist like Jackson Pollock, or one of my favorite, Edward Hopper’s artwork was about how the art made you feel.

  6. Trends in Art come and go...absolutely. The concept of art evolves continuously. Time obscures the memories and much art is ephemeral...but while there were many impressionists for example, certain artists and paintings become emblematic of the style.
    Pollack is a good example of how hype and controversy can propel an artists perceived worth. The work he was best known for, now has a disposable, cliched quality to it. The concept was more important than the resulting image.
    Lucien Freud, on the other hand, here is a modern painter who not only mastered his craft, but is able to create an image that has layers of context.
    His work will last. I truly admire Francis Bacon as a master of his craft who created revolutionary work that will last as a psychological key to understanding the psyche of our age.
    It's like pop music. It is the aural portrait of our dreams, but most is disposable, like many of our memories, but there are pieces of popular music that will always be able to evoke profound emotional experiences.

  7. Wow you folks are way beyond me on this topic. I tend to go toward people like Andrew Weyeth or perhaps Neil Welliver and I have a hard time forgetting people like Winslow Homer. I wonder in our present world or here in this country if we shall again see significant long lasting art or music. I hope so, I really do that we still have those elements around us that still want to challenge our senses or to simply help us hear or see so much that we miss otherwise.