Contributed by Mike Fleishman.
It’s election time! Do I have to draw you a picture as to what’s in store for America? Well, that’s what political art is all about! Political art takes on many forms. Maybe it’s subway graffiti (Keith Haring) top right, a comic strip (Pogo by Walt Kelly in the 1950s; Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner in the 60s) or an editorial cartoon from Mike Peters or Herb Block.
Perhaps it’s a sculpture or painting (Picasso’s Guernica – second from top), illustration (Shepard Fairey’s Hopeposter – third from top) or graphic design (the iconic WW2 “We Can Do It” sheet by J. Howard Miller – bottom). It could certainly be photography, or public/performance art, like John and Yoko’s Amsterdam bed-in.
Whatever the media, political art is created to stimulate thought and discussion, debate and opinion. Effective political art engages (on one end of the spectrum) or enrages (on the other end). By definition, it most certainly can—and should—influence a reader. No topic is out of bounds, or should be, in a democratic society that welcomes dissent and fair speech: sex, human relations and human rights, crime and corruption, class struggles, the boundaries of wealth and power.
Is political art subversive? It could well be, but another term that works here is revolutionary. Is it skewed “right” or “left”? Well, how far left or right is your reach? Some may say, “Wow, that’s absolutely correct!” or from others: “Oh, this is seriously wrong.” It’s all up for grabs.
Like the arena of politics itself, political art gets complicated. So have fun with it! You’ll likely have plenty of opportunity in the months ahead.