Like most everyone else out there I have been trying to figure out how to respond to the madness of our current political situation. If you have followed my work at all you know that I have made plenty of art that makes fun of how our culture “does politics,” and that I have attempted to use satirical art to challenge the insane rhetoric that is flung around in our contemporary monkey cage. Much to my chagrin, work that was intended as outlandish satire has turned out to be less shocking than reality. Everyday a new story or rumor emerges that would have sounded like an exaggerated late night comedy skit a few years ago. It’s tough to know how to satirize a “post-truth” culture that satirizes itself.
This has pushed me to think hard about what I am doing as an artist – what impact do I hope to have on the world through my art? Most of my favorite artistic influences were attempting to criticize and change the corrupt/unjust systems they found themselves in, but sometimes all they accomplished was bearing witness to the terrible tragedies of human history. What should an artist do in a time of crisis? What can art actually accomplish?
So I thought I would give myself a challenge for the next year. I intend to post an example of political/social criticism once a week from the 2017 Inauguration forward. In the end I hope to have 50 or so examples of artists who dealt with the madness of their times – and a nice record of political art that might be useful to others. The scholarship will be sloppy – the attitude flippant – but hopefully it will be cathartic for me and it might provide viewers with some comic relief from the circus of our current politics (and perhaps some solace in knowing that there is nothing new under the sun).
I though I would start with one of my favorites. An anonymous artist made this great print of the Pope and the Emperor wrestling for power in their underwear. Art attempting to bring low the high/powerful/proud/pompous.
Annon German – 15th Century. Allegory of the Meeting of Pope Paul II and Emperor Frederick IIIc. 1470woodcut, hand-colored in green, red lake, yellow, tan, and orange