Political Art from the 18th Century to the 21st

ON VIEW Dec 6 - Jan 20, 2018

The origins of The Center for Contemporary Political Art (CCPArt) are found in this 18th Century portrait of the last Inca, acquired at a Sotheby’s auction in New York in November 1980 by CCPArt’s founder, Charles Krause. Having just returned to the United States from two and a half years living and working in Latin America, where he was The Washington Post’s South America correspondent, Krause was familiar with
Spanish colonial painting because of his many reporting trips to Peru and knew that a portrait of the last Inca was quite rare; after the Spanish Conquest of the Inca Empire in 1572, local artists and artisans were trained to create religious art for the hundreds, if not thousands, of Catholic churches and chapels the Spanish built throughout the Viceroyalty of Peru to solidify their control.

Acquisition of the rare portrait led Krause to wonder why it hadn’t commanded a higher price than the religious paintings from the same period auctioned that day at Sotheby’s. He also realized that the artist who painted the portrait was making a political statement in opposition to Spanish rule, possibly at considerable risk to himself had the painting been found by the Spanish authorities. Thus, this 18th Century portrait of the last Inca by an anonymous Spanish colonial artist is an early example of political art.

Except for the Daumier lithographs, the works of art in this exhibition were acquired by Charles Krause for his personal collection of political art, which began when he acquired the portrait of the last Inca in 1980. We wish to thank Paul London of Washington for lending the Daumier lithographs from his extensive private collection of Daumier’s work.


The Center for Contemporary Political Art, a 501(c)(3) public corporation, will be the first research institute and exhibition space in the United States devoted to the study, patronage and strategic use of political fine art, continuing a tradition of fine art dating back at least to ancient Greece. Indeed, many of the greatest paintings and sculpture in the canon of Western art, from the carved portraits of Alexander the Great attributed to Lypossis (ca323-31) to Titian’s Las Furias (1548/49) to Picasso’s Guernica (1937) to Boris Lurie’s Adieu Amerique: Lumumba is Dead (1961), were created to convey political messages in the aftermath of war or to warn of impending crisis.

Shatter as triptych@300

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