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.
Mindful of that history and tradition, the new Center for Contemporary Political Art, to be located in Washington, D.C., will initially commission and exhibit fine art “in support of good governance and a just society for the Common Good of all Americans.”
Its first exhibit, Defining The Art of Change in The Age of Trump, will address the President’s character and his Administration’s policies and will be on display in Washington beginning September 30th through the November 6th mid-term elections.
Hoping to encourage more of the estimated 2 million artists resident in the United States to dedicate at least a part of their practices to political art, the Center’s first exhibitions will be “open call” exhibitions, open to all artists who wish to submit their work for consideration.
The “call notices” for these exhibitions will be informed by the findings of the Center’s Design Incubator, which will assemble teams of artists and social scientists to create the research instruments the Center will then use to focus its exhibitions and to determine what information, and which messages, the artwork in its exhibitions must communicate, to dispel myths and influence public opinion.
Believed to be the first arts organization in the country with a mandate to “actively engage” in the national debate over contentious issues such as health care, immigration, tax policy, presidential leadership, corruption and foreign meddling in U.S. elections, the Center will develop a sophisticated social media presence; host an Annual Lecture and Awards ceremony; organize a speakers program and conference series at the Center; and allow like-minded advocacy groups to use images of the artwork exhibited at the Center for their own outreach campaigns, free of charge.
The Center’s exhibitions will empower the Nation’s visual artists; providing, for the first time, an institutionalized means by which they can express their political views and use their creativity and talent to actively engage with, and influence, policy makers and policy outcomes. The Center believes that facilitating their active engagement will help restore a once-vital part of the democratic process in the United States, the give-and-take of public debate, that’s been largely lost due to the corrosive effect of Big Money, backroom politics brought about by Citizens United.
Beyond demonstrating the power of fine art to inspire and influence needed social and political change, the Center hopes to serve as a model for other public institutions that wish to encourage the political consciousness and cohesion of America’s Creative Class. Longer term, the Center hopes the impact of its exhibitions will help establish political and socially-engaged art as the defining Art of the 21st Century.