PROPAGANDA VERSUS ART

Spanish Bombs

Guernica by Pablo Picasso

It’s one of the best known paintings of the Modern era. Expatriate Spaniard Pablo Picasso created Guernica in response to an atrocity that occurred during the Spanish Civil War, an episode that was a harbinger of the ruthless slaughter of the Second World War. 

On April 26, 1937, the Condor Legion, a corps of German Luftwaffe pilots who had volunteered to assist the Nationalist forces fighting in Spain, launched a raid on the defenseless Basque city of Guernica.  Multiple waves of airplanes bombed and strafed the civilian population of the town. The total number of casualties is disputed, but hundreds were killed.

An early experiment in the terrorizing carpet bombing later refined by the Nazis, the Guernica bombing demonstrated the callous brutality and effectiveness of twentieth century warfare, and the willingness to reach beyond the conventional battlefield to strike at enemies. The world recoiled in horror, but even worse events were yet to come.

Picasso was moved by the tragic assault to make what is probably his most famous piece of art. The work is mural sized, eleven feet high and over twenty five feet long, rendered in somber grays and boney white suggestive of the starkness of photojournalism. Although its initial reception was somewhat mixed, in time Guernica has become accepted as a powerful statement against war. As such, it is often referenced by those who emphasize art as a political act.  This is an attitude very prevalent in establishment artists today.

Picasso was clear on his intentions about the painting as a statement, but what he put in the canvas is a different story. Is the impact Guernica has as art due to a political stance, or has it endured due to articulating more universal, human concerns?

What ideological side is there to be chosen amongst those tumbling ghosts and stricken animals? The power of the piece has nothing to do with a particular time or viewpoint. The details are an anachronistic mix, ranging from a sword to a lightbulb. The audience does not need to know anything about the Republic, the Condor Legion or white phosphorus to feel the horror.

We bring external knowledge to the piece, being aware of the circumstances of its creation. Apart from the title selected by the artist, there is nothing in that piece that makes it specifically about the bombing of a Spanish town or the power struggles of the 1930s. It tells a universal story of the tragic violence in life.

Don’t forget, our impressions of the Spanish Civil War, noble Republicans versus evil Nationalists, are largely a Marxist driven myth. Author George Orwell fought alongside the Communists there. What he learned from the tactics of his comrades informed his dystopian books Animal Farm and 1984; he saw their brutal totalitarian intentions in action.  Orwell’s works transcend politics to act as dire warnings about the consequences of man’s covetousness nature run amuck.

We think of the painting Guernica as a political piece not because of what we can actually see, but because of what we are told about it. We are expected to squint through filters of received knowledge and officially condoned attitudes to reach the Correct conclusions. As a result, it’s easy for the painting’s presence as art to be diminished into mere propaganda. 

There’s a lot of that going around these days.

As I state in my 2018 book, Remodern America: How the Renewal of the Arts Will Change the Course of Western Civilization:

“There are important distinctions between art and propaganda. Although both are forms of visual communication, their aims are completely different. Great art explores the mysteries of human experience. Propaganda seeks to influence an intellectual decision by stirring up obscuring clouds of emotionalism.

“Strong art reaches universal, shared experience by honestly presenting the results of self-exploration. Propaganda seeks to substitute that universal appeal with the presentation of ideology it assumes to be commonly held by all right-thinking people.”

Propaganda is distortion, intended to drive the audience into a pre-determined conclusion. It is far removed from the mysterious communion genuine art provides.

Despite the popular pose struck by many contemporary artists, who fancy they are bold rebels making a stand against injustice, the ideas advocated by most of today’s political art are actually advancing the values of the doubling dealing so-called elites they pretend to criticize.

The contemporary art scene was weaponized by the Postmodern deconstruction of reality, where The Narrative and the will to power matters more than truth. There are no consequences for hypocrisy in the Postmodern mindset. Any actions are permissible to the select few, as long as the correct ideas are publicly endorsed.

Enduring changes start in the arts. The power of art to define our way of life, to show us how to be, has been tragically underestimated. The Postmodern corruption I first observed in 1980s art school has seeped out and tainted our entire society. Our cultural institutions no longer provide us knowledge, education, real news, or responsible governance. We are enmeshed in an entire ecosystem of lies, sustained by the media, the academy, Big Tech, sellout corporations, and traitorous politicians. The monopoly is enforced by censorship and retaliations. You would think by observing the actions of the New Aristocracy of the Well Connected, our Constitutional Republic is dead; all that remains is for them loot and oppress the rest of us into oblivion.

One of the ways to counter this ruthless assault is with art. Not the bait and switch artifice which the establishment has pulled, substituting leftist activism for creativity. There is no chance newly created real art will receive institutional support these days. Based on the art world news I follow, the Inner Party has decreed the mission is now supposedly countering racism through the flaunting of blatant and despicable racist behaviors and attitudes. All the museum, gallery and artist sheep are dutifully baaing along.  It’s all just another manipulative social engineering project, like everything the Cultural Marxists produce. This will do nothing but further alienate the people from the resources real art provides.

The elitist-driven degeneration of art into propaganda denies our society the inspiration to live up to ideals; the encouragement to think and feel deeply; the yearning to harmonize with truth and beauty. The establishment blocks real art from us because they know how weak we are without it.

We need art as the timeless experience which is as old as humanity itself.  For, as President John F Kennedy noted, “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”

Elitists went scorched earth against civilization in their pursuit of unaccountable power. Their attempt to replace all means of communication with propaganda is supposed to keep us from noticing. Our credentialed classes react to truth like a vampire does to a crucifix. So that is why it will be important going forward to independently cultivate art which fulfills the John Keats insight about the visual expression of Western philosophy: “”Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

There is a huge opportunity here. Establishment mismanagement has driven the arts out of relevance for the majority. But the human need for it persists, just like all our other instinctual appetites. Creatives can contribute to rallying the human spirit in resistance against the darkness being imposed on us from above. What a glorious way to out-evolve our stifling, would-be rulers.

The elites can’t stand beauty because it shows their ugliness. They can’t stand truth because it exposes their lies. They can’t stand individual expression because it’s outside of their control. They can’t stand talent honed into skillful expression through dedication, because it reveals their own mediocrity, incompetence and laziness. They can’t stand art because it demonstrates the human spirit as created in God’s image, as creators articulating divine order.

The elites can’t beat real art, only suppress it. Let’s make it impossible for their propaganda to gain any traction by presenting a powerful alternative.

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I don’t fundraise off of my blog. I don’t ask for Patreon or Paypal donations. If you’d like to support the Remodern mission, buy a book. Or a painting

My wife Michele Bledsoe has written her own inspirational book, Painting, Passion and the Art of Life.

Remodernism Video: BEFORE THERE WAS FAKE NEWS, THERE WAS FAKE ART

Visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

Please send any inquiries to info@remodernamerica.com. Thank you!

Update: Welcome Instapundit Readers! Enduring changes start in the arts. Renew the arts, and renew the civilization.

PERFORMANCE: Elites Exploit Shakespeare with an Orwellian Distortion

Great Caesar’s Ghost!

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“…I have heard
That guilty creatures sitting at a play
Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
Been struck so to the soul that presently
They have proclaimed their malefactions.
For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ…

The play’s the thing

Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.”
-William Shakespeare
Part of the miraculous achievement of playwright William Shakespeare is his depiction of universal principles through the actions of his particular characters. These enduring insights make it possible to set his plays in practically any time, and any place, despite the specifics of their plots.
We’ve seen the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet performed as song and dance in a New York City ghetto. King Lear enacted as a feudal Japanese epic. Young Orson Welles was hailed as a genius for re-imagining  The Scottish Play as a tale of Caribbean Voodoo. One of my favorite movies frees the gruesome soap opera Titus Andronicus from any particular time at all: the Roman Legions ride motorcycles, the emperor gives speeches on radio, an imperial orgy takes place at a rave. All of these approaches work, because despite the creative interpretations,  the productions retain the integrity of the plays.
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Shakespeare can go almost anywhere
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But what if the staging of the story seems to miss the point of original story altogether? Then it’s valid to question the judgement of the company and its directors. Even more troubling is when there is evidence that they are failing not as the result of muddled thinking, but because they are acting with actual malice.
Which brings us to the Public Theater’s reprehensible production of Julius Caesar, featuring an obvious stand-in for President Donald Trump as the titular character. It’s a transparent pandering to the sensibilities of the coastal elitists who were so roundly defeated in the last election. This version is a revelation of their impotent rage and desire for revenge.
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A Yuge Controversy
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The problem is, the way the play Julius Caesar unfolds totally contradicts their agenda. Are they really this stupid, or just blind with partisanship?
The whole point of this controversial retelling is to allow a bunch of progressive wankers to indulge in a little piece of assassination porn. And after that bloody money shot, the play still has two acts to go, with no pleasant afterglow for the murderous conspirators. They end up crushed, defeated, and dead; all they accomplished was to usher in the autocratic rule they claimed to be preventing.
This Central Park show would save a lot of time for everyone if they just jumped right to the murder and left off the ending. It would be much more satisfying to the virtue signalling cosmopolitan herd that is their target audience.
Did the Public Theater not actually read the whole play? Do they not know history? Being Leftists, probably they don’t. I don’t remember who said it, but it reminds me of a quote I heard that progressives are the only people you can convince to touch a hot stove twice. They have great faith in their pseudo-religion of politics to sever the connections between cause and effect. Ever since the election various forces on the Left seem to be trying to psyche themselves up for some kind of terrible action. The rhetoric and the violence are both escalating. Their extremism will not get them the results they desire, and will destroy them as well. That is what Shakespeare unequivocally shows us.
I do find it interesting they selected dead white cis-gendered male Shakespeare as the vessel for their fury. What, weren’t there any plays available by a woke, gender fluid writer from an oppressed group?
And yet, despite the fundamental betrayal of Shakespeare’s conclusions, and the horrible hatred on display towards Trump and his voters, the establishment remains largely supportive of the production. Global corporations like Time Warner stand by their funding choices, despite the public outcries and controversy. What gives?
To understand why the elites are being so rigid and unresponsive to such obvious provocations, it’s important to look at the works of another insightful English writer. George Orwell pegged the motivation here, in his frighteningly accurate book 1984. Orwell noted:
“The essence of oligarchical rule is not father-to-son inheritance, but the persistence of a certain world view and a certain way of life, imposed by the dead upon the living. A ruling group is a ruling group so long as it can nominate its successors…all the beliefs, habits, tastes, emotions, mental attitudes that characterize our time are really designed to sustain the mystique of the Party and prevent the true nature of present day society from being perceived.”
The election of 2016 was a direct assault by the people on the entrenched forces of the establishment. It’s probably the first time in a very long time in America where the elites were not able to manipulate the outcome within the parameters of their carefully managed illusions of choice. Like Orwell described, they’ve been able to stick to their Narrative script for decades now, and channel all planning and development through their agenda. They have been the gatekeepers, and for any advancement you must play by their rules.
When the first real challenger to this dominance arises, note their ultimate reaction: calls to murder anyone who will not submit to their status quo. To get the message out, they are twisting art into a blatant threat. However, such is the competence of our would-be rulers they overlook the clear conclusions of the work they are tainting with their hyper-partisan antics. We really need a better word than “elites” to describe these self-serving buffoons.
Such over the top histrionics enacted by our educated classes can be seen as a dangerous omen. Just like ancient Rome, the decadence and corruption of our ruling classes could lead to national disaster. One of the mightiest civilizations ever known was overrun by primitive invading hordes.
Will that be our fate, ruin due to governing class misrule? Perhaps. However, I see a different dynamic opening up.
On June 16, 2017, the Public Theater performance of Julius Caesar was interrupted. Two brave citizens struck right at this presumptive heart of cosmopolitan superiority, calling it and its patrons out as the fascists they are. Expect more like this, as the tactics of Alinsky are turned against the minions of the budding totalitarian state (EDIT June 19: as predicted, there were further disruptions. Two of them).
I always say in America, we are our own barbarians. Our culture is collapsing, but really, it’s not our culture. For decades we have been living in a Matrix-like alternative reality, the insidious slow boil of Cultural Marxism. That is what is showing its exhaustion and strain, and resorting to intimidation to try to artificially extend its existence: the long march Leftism that has infiltrated and denigrated our institutions.
The conspiracy of Postmodernism is dead. The Deplorables are coming to overthrow this failed system with the values that made the United States great in the first place.
Change starts in the arts. Watch this blog for more developments of this joyous insurgency.
Welcome to Remodern America.
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Richard Bledsoe “Globe of the Apes” acrylic on canvas 20″ x 16″
(My tongue-in-cheek take on the infinite monkey theorem
 Edit: Welcome Instapundit readers! Please visit other posts for more commentary on the state of the arts.

ARTICLE: Tracey Emin, 1984, and the Cult of Celebrity

Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' To Be Auctioned At Christie's

Tracey Emin with her “art”

WESTERN FREE PRESS: My latest article on the corruption and manipulations at the heart of our cultural industry, and examination of the possible motivations. Supporting observations provided by George Orwell.

“Tracey Emin is little known in America, outside of artsy circles. I get the impression it’s different in England, where she’s more of a tabloid figure, notoriously milking the old shock-the-bourgeoisie poses so dear to the moneyed culture elites. My Bed is simply a collection of Emin’s dirty linens and assorted refuse moved from her home into a museum, and proclaimed to be cutting edge art. This gesture was what first got her noticed as an art world player.

“My Bed can be seen as emblematic of the non-art favored by pretentious metropolitans these days, an unskilled accumulation of dingy objects supposedly transmuted into art by the alchemy of dislocation. In a home the collection of soiled belongings would just be low grade squalor. Move them into a gallery or museum, and the theory is the new context should apparently spark some amazing mental gymnastics of Questioning and Challenging and Transgressing. It’s a pathetic substitute for artistic achievement, but it’s about all the current ersatz-intelligentsia can offer up…

“The phenomena of a Tracey Emin is a codification of the worst traits in contemporary society: plutocratic influence hawking a type of nihilism, all tarted up with tawdry narcissism and brazen incompetence.”

Clink on the link to read the whole thing.