December 15, 2008

Art in the Age of Obama

In the January issue of The American Prospect, I write about a new era in which artists, strongly supported by the new president, will transcend starry-eyed campaign pictures and develop new forms of enduring art. "Like much of America, the art world has fallen for Barack Obama with unguarded sincerity. From Shepard Fairey's widely reproduced poster to Robert Indiana's HOPE sculpture based on his well-known LOVE statue from the 1960s, artworks created to raise cash for the campaign manifest a partisan earnestness rarely seen since the graphics of the Russian Revolution of 1917. In one popular print, Ron English depicts Obama's face morphed with an image of Abraham Lincoln. Visual art, explicitly or implicitly, broadly reflects the politics of its generation. The art world has embraced Obama not only because of his soaring message of hope, firm anti-war stance, and strident call for change but also because he was the only candidate whose campaign explicitly embraced the arts as a policy concern. The Bush years have been a deeply despondent period for American art. With Obama's presidency, though, a new era may be dawning in which artists, strongly supported by an administration as culturally sophisticated as it is politically enlightened, will transcend starry-eyed campaign pictures and develop new forms of enduring art that reflect both the indelible optimism of the moment and the undeniable challenges of the years to come...." Read more.

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