Art and politics

Consider your role as an artist in the political world. In a climate as charged as this one, there’s no real way to avoid making a statement - even if your statement is not to make one, at all.

So often, actors and musicians and popular arts figures are told they have no place making statements about politics. When an artist is told to stick to their job, not make it about policy or legislation, how deeply is that undercutting their role in democratic society?

You’re a person in this country, and you vote. (Right?) You’re allowed, and encouraged, to care about the decisions being made in your home. If you choose to express that in your art, more the better.

There is an argument to be made that even if your art is not making direct commentary, by virtue of creating something that is meant to be escapist or pleasurable or beautiful, you’re saying the world requires respite. And that’s also okay.


“Henri Matisse famously declared that he dreamed of an art "devoid of troubling or depressing subject matter ... a soothing, calming influence on the mind, rather like a good armchair." His close friend Picasso, who more often indulged the darker sides of human emotion, wasn't especially political in his art either.

Nonetheless, in the mid-1930s, during an urgent rush of creativity, the latter painted a dramatic mural-sized protest over the bombing of Guernica in the direct black and white tones of a newspaper. The political directness of his "Guernica" (pictured above) may have been inspired by the revolutionary attitude of his Mexican friend Diego Rivera, or the politically charged paintings of his historical compatriot Francisco Goya's famous series, "Disasters of War."

The painting is an obvious example of how aesthetics and protest are not mutually exclusive. Picasso showed that painter and painting could be both.” - Michael Govan, director and CEO of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), CNN 



So maybe consider art your civic duty to keep creating, whether for a purpose or for entertainment. You’re contributing to the political landscape either way.