Monumental public works, commissions under the aegis of Roosvelt's Federal Arts Project, were being executed by American artists. They created vast paintings and sculptures that decorated public buildings. The original model of monumental art, expressing the idea of social and national liberation, was created in the twenties in Mexico, The popular revolution taking place in that country since 1910 had an enormous impact on young Mexican creative artists, who saw in art one of the tools of political and social education. In 1923, the Association of Professional Painters and Sculptors came into being. Its members were, among others, Jose Clemente Orozco (1883-1949), Diego Rivera (1886-1957) and David Alfaro Sigueiros (1896-1974). The creative activities of these artists, concurrently members of the communist party, was focused on the execution of gigantic cycles of murals which decorated the interiors of public buildings. Their thematic content related to the history of Mexico and its wars of liberation. The realistic paintings of the Mexican muralists, using simplified modeling and naturalistic expression, became the model for many years for public and socially engaged art.
The dramatic confrontation of the reality of modern art with the real intentions of totalitarian ideology occurred in Europe primarily with the participation of Italian, German and Russian artists. The behavioral paradigms worked out by them and against them became extreme examples of the mutual relationship of art and authority in the 20th century. The great dictators of the 30's, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and their successors, Mao and Castro, emphasized very distinctly the "revolutionary" character of the changes that were to occur as a result of their activities. A rhetoric of newness, modernity, youthfulness and dynamism accompanied them in contradistinction to what became considered as backward, rotten, decadent, thus above all liberal-democratic elements of order and accompanying forms of culture. The borderline "modern" orientation of contemporary totalitarian dictators was matched by their specific approach to extant forms of societal organization. All spontaneously developed mechanism of life in the community were to be eliminated and in their stead purposefully planned, rational and functional forms were to be instituted.

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

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Links:     Socrealism     Jones
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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