Artists deviated from old styles at the end of the nineteenth century to create new era of art. The origins of modernism and contemporary art can be traced back to the industrial revolution. The industrial revolution’s advances in technology, production, and transportation had a significant effect on the economic, social, and cultural facets of Europe, North America, and, later, the rest of the world. People’s mobility, along with expanded human activity as society welcomed the industrial revolution, resulting in a modern artistic world view. In the period before the 19th century, the artwork was reserved for institutions such as the church and wealthy patrons in the society. Upon the inception of the modern era and industrial revolution, artists started expressing people, ideas, and places that interested them in art works. The subjective experiences of artists are depicted in art as they explore symbolism, personal iconography, and dreams. The evolution of art is hugely attributed to the changing human experiences. Daily livelihoods coupled with an element of creativity have seen artists develop with pieces of art with great messages that are bound to change societal thinking and perceptions. As modernization in the world of art took shape, the mediums, and techniques, materials, and color of presenting art also evolved as technology changed. Politics which forms an integral part of human life was expressed through art during the modern era capitalizing while on the new changes. The political ideologies and regimes over time have had a direct impact on daily livelihoods. The call for reforms, criticism and social progress in the political context has led to revolutions in the politics across the globe. Art has been deemed as a medium to channel ideas and messages. The relationship between politics and modern art is a contentious issue subject to in-depth analysis to establish an understanding of the elements, the success and the proportion of modern art in political influence.
Elements of Modern Art and politics
There is a relationship between modern art and politics. The depiction of art in politics is aimed at communicating hidden implications of current governments which are not recognized by the societal members. The politics during the contemporary were characterized and established by neoliberal capitalism. Many artists find fault in the modern politics by the way in which political systems curtail social progress and prevent the general public from recognizing the actual state of affairs. The relationship between politics and modern art is founded on historical connection and trajectory. Over time, art has shifted from the focus on poetry and ethics to politics in modern era. Modern art engages and invests in society, politics and thought as opposed to the ancient art which was based on imitation and beauty of the world. Irrespective of the exact time, artistic movement or style, art has been related to politics (McQuillan, 66).
Modern art is shaped and influenced by various social circumstances and conditions. Art as seen in the Soviet and Nazi visual culture is a representation of the characteristics of the political systems during the given period of modern politics. Art serves to communicate the reality of human experiences and also avail supportive meanings to substantiate ideological stances. While some artistic expressions may support given political regimes, over time, art has been a close critique of politicians and their ideologies. The avant-garde movement which thrived in the 20th century is said to have created an aesthetic coup in the world of art (HANNAM, 42). Avant-garde art movement opposed the traditional culture and styles in the social and political aspects of the society. The move represented artworks that called upon the people to embrace change, social progress and pursue independence of thought and deeds. The modern art expressions that supported the ideologies of the avant-garde included the Feminist art and the Black arts movement seen in the 20th century. Art in the contemporary world is not viewed as a personal representation of the artist but a societal engagement with the real world. The artwork can be used to express political positions on capitalist market systems, economic, racial and sexual connotations in artistic stances (Reid, 30).
Modern art is used to criticize political sanctions that have negative implications on the people. Artists including Ai Weiwei represent the modern art and their relationship with politics. An art work by Ai Weiwei called the ‘Sunflower Seeds’ encompass a total of 100 million husks made of ceramic to resemble real natural husks. Upon completion, the husks were taken to a gallery and visitors walked on the husks. Jingdezhen has been a place for imperial porcelain production in China for more than a thousand years (Hodge, 16). The modern art is a critic representation of China’s political system in the past and the current. The global goods produced in China is a known political issue that is seen as perpetuating inequality and subjecting the average Chinese people to economic turmoil. The art work communicates the fragility and vulnerability of the workers, and faulty economic and cultural exchange sanctioned by political elites in the contemporary world (Wide Walls, 6).
Modern art is a new platform for protesting against political injustices in the current society. Street art which is part of the contemporary technique has been used to critique power and communicate political messages. Political visual artworks are found in the streets of urban centers across the globe. In the modern art era, street graffiti started in New York where artists presented their works in subways (Wide Walls, 5). The extension of street art has seen modern artists embark on intricate murals seen even in walls of buildings. What is termed as ‘street creatives’ in the contemporary art is used to make more straight messages to the political systems unsuch as in the case of other artistic platforms such as the print-media (Segal, 79).
Art is used in encouraging nationalist thinking and social norms. In Albania, modern artistic expressions are being used to counter what is deemed as rising corporatization of the country and neoliberalism. A group of students, activists and young creative people in Albania created a group called Ceta. The modern artist group seeks to oppose capitalism in Albania through artistic expressions. Artistic work called ‘Vojo Kushi is Still Alive’ represents an Albanian-Yugoslav guerrilla fighter who fought during the Second World War. Vojo Kushi climbed a tank and threw a grenade inside it destroying the tanker and dying in the process. The art work by Ceta replaces the tanker with the Albanian prime minister’s car. The message in ‘Vojo Kushi is Still Alive’ is to rally the Albanian people against marginalization and exploitation of the poor for the sake of enhancing European integration (Wide Walls, 3). The group of artists is criticizing the gentrification of Tirana, their capital and outlawing of unlicensed Albanian food sellers who hail from rural areas. Vojo Kushi is said to have risen against fascism, the Ceta group in their art works believe to be countering the political capitalism structures in Albania (Reid, 41).
Visual art works is a strong tool in the quest for political liberation. The modernism that resulted from the industrial revolution period has encouraged independent thinking that allows artists to express their ideas and political stands. Avant-garde, black arts movement, and feminism artistic representation represent the relationships between the modern art and the politics of the day. The political art work is systemic to ensure that the result of passing a message is attained. The course of artists has also been marked by events that put the quest for political liberation in question. Pablo Picasso in 1944 joined the communist party. The political revolution undertaken by the modern artists strived to attain universality. The social realism in the contemporary art era took toll of many artists as conservative political regimes and propaganda as seen in Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime scared many artists (Goodwin, & Coval, 24).
Success of Modern Art in Influencing Politics
Modern art has been successful in encouraging nationalist thinking, social norms, revolution, criticizing power and communicating politically. The extensive reach out of the art is ideal for changing ideologies, creating awareness and enlightenment of the general public. In the modern era, the use of public displays, streets, and building walls provided an excellent platform for political communication. The use of art also is effective in communicating political stands in that; artists take a neutral position in the society thus creating more acceptance than politicians. Artists have been representing the common citizens in public as opposed to politicians who come from the elite class. The success of modern art in its political liberalism has been the ability to appeal to the general public (Holzwarth, 11). The black art movement, feminism, the Nazi and the Soviet culture artistic representation were successful in passing the message as artists combined reality and creativity to make a communication.
Modern Art and Politics
All art in the modern art era did not pass political messages. The work of other artists including Jean Metzinger in his art works ‘oil on canvas’ represented the beauty of nature (Motion, et al., 63). Metzinger who is a modern artist used the styles and techniques of contemporary era art to represent his work without taking a political stand. The use of non-traditional material, painting technique and color made modern artworks appealing to people. Institutions including the church and the rich patrons in the society still needed art works which took no political inclinations. Entertainment has been an integral part of the art. The ability to create an exclusive representation of the world has allowed artists to appeal to the general public. While politics have a significant bearing on human life, non-political activities also take center stage in humanity. The modern era was marked by political tensions and witnessed the two world wars. However, not all artists chose to do political art works (Motion, et al., 63).
The contemporary artists are quite diverse in the representation of ideas. The increased freedom in the current world has allowed artists to critique political systems and air out opinions more explicitly than before. The use of television networks, print-media including news papers and the use of internet websites and social media platforms are revolutionizing art. The diversity of artists and globalization has created more outreach of art works. The social, political, economic and technological aspects of the society are being made and communicated online and in print publications. However, the regulations governing the expression of art works is regulating the political stands created by artists to prevent extremism. The issue on terror that has rocked the globe puts the artists on notice as not to encourage political extremism. Contemporary artists similarly to the modern artists are not all inclined towards political communication. Contemporary artists are also focusing on other societal aspects that enhance social progress and the respect for humanity beyond political contexts (Kanopy (Firm), 19).
Modern art was marked with a difference in which artists represented artworks. The change in techniques, mediums, and color allowed artists to present more clear messages in their work. The modern era also allowed artists to create more appeal and outreach as they sort to communicate different signals to the general public. Artists took an integral position in political liberation during the modern art era. The contributions of various artists created more political awareness across the society. The encouragement of independent thinking allowed people to advocate for freedom and the enhancement of social progress. While some artists chose political neutrality, all artwork is guided by creativity in the representation of the world to unravel hidden implications of regular occurrences.
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