HIGH ART FOR HIGHER PURPOSES
Museums around the world are filled with art commissioned by the church, the state, and other powerful institutions and individuals. All of this art was political as it reinforced a particular world view. Artists did not receive commissions unless they could clearly and effectively convey their patrons’ ideology. That much of this art is no longer considered political is evidence of a lack of historical and art historical understanding.
The posters in MasterPeaces use earlier art to focus on contemporary issues, including anti-nuclear, anti-war, disabled rights, ecology, HIV/AIDS, sexism and homophobia, and women’s rights. The alteration can be as simple as placing text over an original work to change its context, as in "War is Good Business, Invest Your Son." Or a piece can be completely reworked as in "Evolve or Dissolve" (1991) by “O”, where the single figure in Munch’s The Scream (1893), has been multiplied into countless terrified and ethnically diverse people, screaming as they run from burning oil wells during the first Gulf War.
After creating Guernica, Picasso said, Painting is not done to decorate apartments; it is an instrument of war against brutality and darkness. The same can be said about the political poster. Through this and other traveling exhibitions, CSPG is reclaiming the power of art to inform, inspire, and incite to action.
Note: Images appear in the order intended for exhibition display. MasterPeaces is available as a traveling exhibition using laminated, digital reproductions or the original vintage posters. Please contact us for more information on bringing an exhibition to your institution.
To view the full MasterPeaces exhibition with annotations, browse the publication below. Use the toolbar to navigate between pages, view fullscreen, and search annotations for key words and phrases.