“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” Leonardo da Vinci
What is political art and what isn’t? The Tate’s new exhibition, “Art Turning Left” exhibits the art of left-leaning political artists like the Guerrilla Girls. Undoubtedly, the Guerrrilla Girls made a splash with their bold political statements turning up in odd and surprising places but always with a point to be made. And they made no bones about the purpose of their art. The Guerrilla Girls wanted to be heard and they were screaming in the face of as many people as possible.
The Tate’s exhibit would tend to surmise that political art was entirely a product of the left. The truth is both right and left have always used art as a means of getting their message out. Hitler was to known to frequently use art for his political purpose. But is it art or is it propaganda? Do artists become artists to make political statements or to pull something out of the heart to bring enlightenment to the world?
The answer would seem to lie in the designation of importance of either goal. Is my art about informing others of a political injustice? Or is my art about expressing something in my heart that must get out for others to see? Creating art solely to make a point would seem to be the dividing line. If you did not have a point to make politically or socially, would you be making art? The fact that what is in the artist’s heart may be expressed as a political message is a different thing than making a judgment to use art as the vehicle for getting a political statement into the public arena. One is a calculated brain decision. The other is the expression of the heart. The difficulty for the viewer is to tell which is which. The feelings of the heart can override the calculations of the brain as long as the ears are listening.
For an entertaining look at art purely for political gain go to the blog: Standing Ovation, Seated.