The depth of the destruction, which for many years changed the face of European art, was the result not only of putting into practice of the principals of criminal ideologies. It also, to a degree, derived from the processes that were tied to the development of art itself, and posed dramatic questions to artists regarding their place in society, the new adresees of their art and, finally, the very goals of the performed activity.
The belief, which gained accepted in the middle of the 19th century, that art had a social mission, assumed particular importance in the formulations of the programs of avantgard movement at the beginning of the 20th century. The postulates such programs contained regarding art's participation in social changes and its far reaching impact upon reality were coupled with programmatic elitism and a tendency for an autonomy in the language of artistic expression. The concurrently occuring radical changes, the emergence of new forms of organization of the state, the new divisions of labor and the negation of liberal-democratic concepts undermined former examplars and social arrangements. These problems were exacerbated by the great economic crisis of the thirties, destroying the brittle basis of the existance of many European artistic environments. Artists - the aristocrats of the spirit, came repeatedly face to face with the choice of whether to remain in the confines of their own autonomous art, or whether to seek the possiblity of realizing their conceptions in broad cooperation with the state. What are the limits and rules of such cooperation? What should modern art serve and what programs should it execute? This opened artists to various kinds of temptations and efforts at complete interpretation of the world and its problems.
These processes had a particularly dramatic trajectory in Europe. They differed quite clearly from what at the time was taking place in American and Mexican art, where artists worked in the context of organized state art patronage.

based on Sztuka a systemy totalitarne (Art and totalitarian systems) by Waldemar Baraniewski.

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English translation by Peter K. Gessner of Polish original posted by Liga Republicanska
© 2000 Polish Academic Information Center, University at Buffalo. All rights reserved.


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