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Of Course Art Can Change The World, If Only The Art World Wanted It To

VICE wrote up a cool panel discussion at Bard on the subject of politically engaged art today, but it was lacking an answer to the question it posed: Can art be a form of political activism?

The obvious answer is, well, yes, of course. I mean, look at Jacques-Louis David’s “The Death of Marat,” or practically any of the paintings that he finished during the French Revolution: It’s basically all political propaganda, and very effective political propaganda, at that (Marat was a revolutionary writer who was assassinated; David’s painting institutionalized him as a martyr of the revolution). Manet’s “Olympia” was a political challenge to the art world, its aesthetics and values, inasmuch as it very clearly depicted a prostitute who, rather than having an idealized body and rather than existing for the aesthetic pleasure of the viewer was painted with an imperfect, human body and a confrontational expression. In the 1970s, Mierle Ukeles challenged the art world on its class and gender politics by publicly performing “low” or “women’s” work at the Wadsworth Atheneum, cleaning the museum and washing its front steps as a way of pointing out all the things that must be done to support museums and keep them physically viable. Their boards of directors, their curators, and the artists displayed might get the public attention, but museums couldn’t function without maintenance work. Keep reading »

Crave: Artsy Fartsy T-Shirts For Cheap

The Gap has joined forces with the venerable Whitney Museum to design a line of t-shirts celebrating the Whitney Biennial. The t-shirt above is not from that collection — it’s from Uniqlo, a Japanese chain that’s similar to The Gap. See, the Gap t-shirts are retailing for $28, but Uniqlo’s line of T’s with influential artists is only $15.50 and, we think, so much cuter. [Uniqlo.com] Keep reading »

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