10 November 2005

Dictatorship and Art

Thanks to this article on this new favorite site of mine, I am now more interested in this book than I am on my own thesis. Not a good road to go down, but I'll dig myself in a bit deeper by writing more today about said book than I have on my thesis in the last 4 weeks combined. *Sigh*

This book hasn't been released yet in the US, but is available in the UK. It contains some of the most ghastly travesties of design, the most recent of which come from the stormed palaces of Iraq. I remember seeing some of it on CNN, and thinking, "Wow. Here's a man with complex problems." Maybe you remember the gold toilette? Well, it turns out that other dictators have the same trouble when it comes simultaneously asserting authority and good taste.

Dictators have a notoriously bad influence on the arts. They stifle, they condemn, they shamelessly patronize those that produce the right blend of kitsch, activist art, and agit-prop. Under dictatorship, art must be a political tool in the arsenal of the leader. Hitler famously staged art exhibitions of "Degenerate" art opposite exhibitions of State-sanctioned "Correct" art. Anyone interested in Hitler's use of art ought to see this, which is the best movie I know of on the subject. Some have argued that Hitler's architectural sense was a bit better, but that's hardly a virtue considering how bad everything else was.

Now that I look at it, I actually have written much more than this on my thesis, and that makes me feel somewhat better.

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