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Art as a Political Statement - Essay Example

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Name Class Instructor Date A Delicate Balance: Maintaining Perspective in a Political Message Jacques Louis David – The Death of Marat The French Revolution provided the dramatic subject matter for which the French neo-classicist painter Jacques-Louis David is celebrated…
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Download file to see previous pages But it is a measure of his talent, of his ability to meld form and context, that these works have only served to enhance his reputation over time. In fact, one of his political paintings is generally considered to be his greatest work. The Death of Marat portrays the murder of Jean-Paul Marat, one of the French Revolution’s most incendiary journalists and radical thinkers. Just as Marat himself was a polarizing figure who stirred powerful sentiments, David’s portrait of his murdered corpse was intended to elicit an emotional response from the viewer. The painting’s context is clear: Marat has been martyred by an enemy of the revolution, whose act should serve as a rallying point for those whom Marat sought to inspire. Marat had admitted into his chambers a young Girondist woman named Charlotte Corday, a citizen of the provinces. She plunged a knife deep into Marat’s chest as he sat in his bathtub, killing him in seconds. David’s representation of the murder exhibits a form that is at once affecting and subtle, as though the artist sought to make a political statement in a way that would be impactful without alienating the viewer’s sensibility. There is a blending of subject and background that focuses attention on the dead man’s body in a unique manner. ...
xiv). It is a remarkable achievement. The Death of Marat is undoubtedly a work of political propaganda by an artist deeply moved by a politically motivated assassination. David’s painting was also remarkable for the effect it had on its subject’s legacy. In Revolutionary France, Marat was widely seen as a rabble rouser, an unscrupulous politico and opportunist who had parlayed unprecedented social and political turmoil into a stage for his own renown. In spite of this, David’s subliminal appeal to the viewer, his classically oriented interpretation of the Revolutionary period’s most famous assassination has obscured the negative aspects of Marat’s persona. David’s purpose in The Death of Marat is to bring attention to Marat’s prestige as a leader of transformative social change, a matter for which the artist cares deeply. Marat himself is “idealized and flawless,” an expression of the “compassion and outrage” David felt at his murder (Twomey, 2012). It is this expressiveness that makes David one of the greatest synthesizers of form and content within the context of politics. Pablo Picasso - Guernica The great abstract artist Pablo Picasso was decidedly not a propagandist, though he is responsible for what many consider the greatest anti-war painting ever created. Guernica is Picasso’s representation of the slaughter of innocent citizens in the Basque village of Guernica by fascist (German and Italian) armed forces under the command of Spain’s nationalist government, headed by the dictator Francisco Franco. Picasso’s mural, created for the 1937 Paris International Exposition, portrays a chaotic, jumbled scene meant to convey genocidal destruction let loose by the fascists on a profoundly vulnerable populace. It is also ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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