Propaganda Art: Can a Political Tool Be Art?

With the advent of the First World War, the world witnessed the emergence of a previously unseen form of art — propaganda art. In those grim times, the role of an artist was drastically changed, as art became the tool of war itself. Putting aside all the social and economic factors, can such a notorious form of artistic expression be considered art? Let’s try to answer this question.

Propaganda art has many faces. By far, the most noticeable and popular example is political posters — the vestiges of war art — meant to instill particular ideas and values into the public. During the war, they were used to create an overwhelmingly antagonistic image of the enemy as an absolute evil.

Also, propaganda art can be means of brainwashing people and ideologizing their lives. Take, for example, the Soviet Union. Social realism has nothing to do with the unbiased depiction of reality. You must have heard about the concept of the new Soviet man and woman, the exaggerated idea of “the perfect person.” For many people, it became the highest stage of social evolution. And though Soviet art may seem flamboyant and inspiring, it is also a medium to retranslate ideas convenient for the regime.

We shouldn’t consider propaganda art as a thing of the long-forgotten past — it is here and now. Thanks to modern technologies, it became digitalized, so you ought to be very cautious not to take the bait when you see a picture on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. In view of the above, can we call propaganda art real art? Yes, we probably can. Though it is evil-natured, dubious, and fairly controversial, it is art. At the end of the day, it’s not the capricious nature of art but people, artists in particular, who bring it to existence.

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