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Left vs Right art critique? (Throw in the Alt Right as well.)

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by SomeRandom, Sep 19, 2019.

  1. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    So, my American RF counterparts might have to help me out a little.
    This is spurned on by a random YT comment of all things. It claimed that all meaningful art critiques they had ever seen was always from the left. Whilst the right (and alt right) never breaks down art properly.
    I thought this was unfair, but then I honestly couldn’t think of any “loud” voices from the Right breaking down art properly. I mean I’m sure there’s some Conservative booktubers out there at the very least. I’m sure I’ve encountered conservatives on Goodreads discussions before. But being Australian, I can’t be certain.

    But all the art critique I’ve ever encountered in my admittedly limited interactions with Americanstan voices (see online) comes from leftists. Kyle “Brows Held High” Kalgren. Cinema Snob, various “woke” Booktubers.
    Meanwhile the closest I’ve seen from the right that I can think of are honestly alt right voices complaining about diversity quotas. I swear there was one that tried breaking down the “Mary Sue” only to get it so blatantly wrong, I assumed the guy was just trolling.
    But surely politics only informs how we interpret art, not whether or not one is successful at properly analysing it?

    So help me out here, what do my Americanstan friends think about this characterisation?
    Can you show me some examples of “conservative art critique” to help balance this out for me a little?
     
  2. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein ᛘᛁᛏᚾᛁᚴᚼᛏ᛫ᛋᚢᚾ
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    How far right do you want to go? Art and aesthetics are a big thing in Fascism.
     
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  3. tytlyf

    tytlyf The Mind's Eye

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    Define what you mean by art. Like putting an abstract painting in front of someone and asking their opinion of it?

    How do you know if someone is appropriately analyzing a piece of art or not?
     
  4. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Let’s go from Fascist to Communism as a scale.
     
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  5. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Oh my bad. I’m more of a literature and movie nerd. So perhaps that’s a good baseline to draw from?

    Abstract paintings and such even my artsy pretentious friends just say “go with what you like and bugger everything else.”
    I unfortunately remain unfamiliar with such critique in that “sphere.”

    Of course there’s no right or wrong way to critique art. But I have seen some “shallow” takes. Ostensibly by “alt right” figures, but I don’t know where they fall on the American political scale specifically.
     
  6. ADigitalArtist

    ADigitalArtist Well-Known Member
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    I think it really depends on the type of art and the type of politics. A lot of fiscal conservatives do not value arts as an academics persuit and only industry which is highly commercialized (capitalism gonna capitalism) and vote against their proliferation in schools. Whereas religious conservatives might not value arts which portray ideological conflicts. But a lot of social liberals don't value 'edge' or 'shock jock' style art or what they view as discriminatory or propagandic art. In communism, theocracy and fascism (or nationalism), propaganda art is the status quo however. All of the above participate in what is referred to as cancel culture, to one degree or another.
     
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  7. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein ᛘᛁᛏᚾᛁᚴᚼᛏ᛫ᛋᚢᚾ
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    Cool. Yeah, Fascism is very interested in art, especially Nazism, as it is greatly inspired by 19th century Romanticism, including its art. Hitler was an artist in his youth, of course. Gabriele D'Annunzio, a proto-Fascist who Mussolini ripped off, said that artists were the Supermen of their societies, and he was a poet. favored neo-Classical art. Neo-Fascists these days, the more intellectual ones, tend to play folk music and martial industrial. Michael Moynihan is a Fascist, you could say (although he probably wouldn't call himself that), and he writes frequently on art and culture. He wrote a very popular book on black metal which is considered authoritive.
     
    #7 Saint Frankenstein, Sep 19, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
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  8. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Interesting. Why is fascism so seemingly invested in the arts?
    I mean, I guess I’m showing my ignorance here, but when I think fascism I tend to think of like Big Brother or The World Controllers.
    But I guess propaganda and a strengthening of ties within the “in group” is heavily involved in fascism states?

    I was almost (barely) familiar that fascism was linked with art. Mostly because everyone seems to know that Hitler liked to paint lol
     
  9. Labourwave

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    For Marxism:

    Art is a superstructural phenomena: it does not immediately determine economic/social relations but it does work to shape the economic base of society.

    Art is not a mirror for reality, but a hammer with which to shape it.” -Bertolt Brecht

    I disagree with earlier posts indicating the point of art//propaganda is merely to suit the interests of a status quo.

    Art has a class character, feudal classes have supported the creation of religious art, and art which glamorizes the Fuedal system. Bourgeois art emerged and flourished up to the point of Bourgeois capitalist revolution. The purpose of Communist art to capitalist art is what capitalist art was to Fuedal art.


    "In the world today all culture, all literature and art belong to definite classes and are geared to definite political lines. There is in fact no such thing as art for art's sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause; they are, as Lenin said, cogs and wheels in the whole revolutionary machine." -Mao, "Talks at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art"

    "In literary and art criticism there are two criteria, the political and the artistic.... There is the political criterion and there is the artistic criterion; what is the relationship between the two? Politics cannot be equated with art, nor can a general world outlook be equated with a method of artistic creation and criticism. We deny not only that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable political criterion, but also that there is an abstract and absolutely unchangeable artistic criterion; each class in every class society has its own political and artistic criteria. But all classes in all class societies invariably put the political criterion first and the artistic criterion second.... What we demand is the unity of politics and art, the unity of content and form, the unity of revolutionary political content and the highest possible perfection of artistic form. Works of art, which lack artistic quality, have no force, however progressive they are politically. Therefore, we oppose both works of art with a wrong political viewpoint and the tendency towards the "poster and slogan style" which is correct in political viewpoint but lacking in artistic power. On questions of literature and art we must carry on a struggle on two fronts." -Mao, Ibid
     
    #9 Labourwave, Sep 19, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  10. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

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    My guess is (and this is a guess) rural areas, which are generally conservative, do not value art like it is in a city. And Fascism, as far as I can tell, is the product of "city mice" who have hailed art as a great achievement, a claim itself being more of "city value" than a "country value." Left or right, intellectuals, scientists, academics, and other "brainiac types" tend to appreciate art and classic culture, and tend to be more congregated in cities.
     
  11. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Conservatism appeals mainly to the elite in a society, who wish to "conserve" the social processes and mechanisms that provided them with an excess of wealth and power (conservatism fundamentally being the desire to conserve the status quo) ... and to those who serve the elite hoping to gain a seat at their socioeconomic table. Whereas liberalism appeals to those who for whatever reason (and I think there are many), are seeking new and hopefully better ways of understanding and doing things within their society. So that the arts are far and away more akin to, and appealing to, the liberal mindset than to the conservative. And liberals are far more likely to understand and appreciate the mechanisms and purposes of art within society than conservatives are.

    However, there are always going to be exceptions to this general rule.

    I was told by someone who knew him well, that the Chicago 'Imagist' painter Roger Brown was a southern homosexual conservative (a peculiarly southern phenomenon). And I have to say that his landscapes always gave me the sense of being depictions of the world in which Ayn Rand's novels were set.

    Look for yourself ... link
     
    #11 PureX, Sep 19, 2019
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  12. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    Well that makes sense. But like SF mentioned, fascism is highly interlinked with the arts. Why is that so? (I’m not saying conservatism is the same as fascism of course. Just saying they’re both “not liberal.”)

    Also I swear Ayn Rand always comes up amongst anti feminist, anti SJW/Alt Right crowds. I really need to reread Atlas Shrugged because I don’t know why she’s championed so hard amongst those sorts of crowds.
     
  13. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    A wealth of psychological studies suggest that naturally conservative minds are relatively averse to both novelty and ambiguity. Great art tends to be novel (at the time of its creation) and in ways ambiguous. Conservatives -- those whose brains are born conservative -- are not mentally disposed to appreciate at least some kinds of art.
     
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  14. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Fascists are not interested in the arts, they're interested in controlling the arts. Using them as a tool for propaganda. Art is a society's way of 'seeing itself'; of gauging it's own level of honesty, and freedom. It's the artists in a society that question the society's ideals, and expose the flaws in how people understand their place in the world. And the fascists can't allow that or they'd be seen for what they are. So when fascist dictators try to gain control of a culture, and of a people, the first thing they do is demonize and criminalize anyone who would question or expose them, and that will be the artists (writers, actors, singers, dancers, painters, sculptors, poets, and so on). Forcing the artists to either become their propagandists, or suffer dire consequences.

    The nazis did this, The soviets did this. The Chinese communists did this. Even the Vatican did this when it was trying to rule the world. Saddam did this. K. J. Un in N. Korea does this. To control the arts is to control the "message": to control how a culture sees itself, even if what it's seeing is a lie.
     
    #14 PureX, Sep 19, 2019
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2019
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  15. ImmortalFlame

    ImmortalFlame Well-Known Member

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    I think there's also an extent to which fascism regards art as an indicator of exceptionalism, though this can be considered a further extension of the use of art as propaganda. Essentially, art under fascist rule must serve only two possible functions:

    1 - To encourage support of the ruling political regime, class or authority.
    2 - To further cement the exceptionalism of said ruling political regime, class or authority's chosen demographic.

    Anything other than these goals tends to be regarded as unnecessary or even "subversive" of fascist dogma. In as much as fascism can be defined as a singular thing, I would say that a fundamental aspect of a fascist regime is the gearing of all aspects of society - including the arts - into a singular, unifying aim or goal; with all other thoughts, opinions or perspectives regarded as subversive and either suppressed or eliminated outright. It's a kind of social reorganization built on principle of a sort of robotic efficiency: all things shall be for "the goal", or else they shall be removed. In this type of society, true art cannot exist because true expression cannot exist, because not only is all art straight-jacketed by having to further a function, but all art must necessarily serve the same function.

    So a "fascist reading" of art is possible, and would most likely be trying to regard the art purely in terms of societal function. Does it further its goal? Etc. At least, this is how I have come to regard fascism.

    That being said, there is a fascinating case from Nazi Germany, where the modernist and futurist artistic movements were condemned and re-labelled "degenerate art". Then, in 1937, the Nazis actually held an exhibit in Munich called "Degenerate Art" which displayed confiscated works of modernism and futurism, which was designed with the intent of turning people against modern art. All of the artworks exhibited had labels explaining why they were terrible.

    A small part of me really wished I could have attended that exhibit.
     
  16. HonestJoe

    HonestJoe Well-Known Member

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    If it’s a meaningful art critique, how would you know the politics of the person critiquing it in the first place? I suspect this question is more a symptom of the (apparently growing) tendency towards needing to put people in to simplistic fixed socio-political categories before being able to decide how to respond to them.
     
  17. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    I take your point, here, but I think that because art can address our perceptions of a great many different aspects of our own existence, it is open to criticism regarding that which a specific work or artist chooses to address. If one tends to produce works of art that address political issues or perceptions, then that work and artist will be open to criticism based on it.

    My personal take on politically oriented art is that it tends to be weakened by it's 'double agenda'. But as artists tend to be the first group in a society to feel the boot-heel of an oncoming oppressive regime, often before it becomes too invincible to deter, they will tend to create a lot of politically oriented art when they see it coming. Which then would legitimately open them up to politically oriented critique. But since artists do tend to be the canaries in the sociopolitical coal mine, sometimes purpose has to override quality. I generally have observed, however, that if an artist wants to save the whales, he should go save whales. And if he wants to paint paintings, he should go paint paintings. If he tries to do both at the same time, he will not likely save any whales, and he will not likely produce a good painting, either.
     
  18. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Yes, control and ego are the twin monsters that the fascists need to constantly feed.
    I have a vague recollection of that show having been reassembled, to the degree that it was possible, and being shown again. I don't recall when or where, exactly. Maybe in the 1970s or '80s?
     
  19. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise

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    I was curious as to how American politics shapes art criticism. Since political identity often elicits a certain worldview, that would obviously inform how a person interprets art. I could careless what “side” of the political spectrum people fall on. But I just found it a little odd in my limited experience that the most vocal participants in breaking down art seem to be mostly “leftists.”
     
  20. Saint Frankenstein

    Saint Frankenstein ᛘᛁᛏᚾᛁᚴᚼᛏ᛫ᛋᚢᚾ
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    It's okay. A lot of people don't know about it and have a very vague, cliched image of what Fascism is. I think the reason why art is important in that worldview is because art, as a part of culture, is viewed as a reflection of a people's spirit. In Fascism, society is viewed as an organic whole with the State representing the needs and desires of the people, and the Leader (Il Duce to the Italians and Fuhrer to the Germans) being the ultimate symbol and arbiter of the unity and will of the Nation.

    Culture is seen as a living thing that goes through it's own life-death-rebirth cycle. Art is a part of this, with art considered reflective of the rebirth and growth stages of the culture to be representative of the healthy spirit or psyche of the people. When culture is in decay, the art produced during that stage is viewed as reflecting the fallen spiritual state of the people so it's held in low regard. That's pretty much why the Nazis viewed modern art as degenerate.
     
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