Influence of Art in Politics

Influence of Art in Politics

Art and politics

Art is autonomous. This means that it operates independently of those in power. Still, it needs the government for its survival. The Dutch government supports art financially, and thereby partly determines which art deserves this support. But also regardless of the financial aspect, the question is whether art and politics are really so separate from each other.

The vision of politics on art
At the end of the 18th century, the philosopher Emanuel Kant formulated the purpose of art as ‘l’art pour l’art’. This phrase that has become famous means that art need not have any other purpose than to be art. In other words; it is not about the message but about the artistic value of the artwork.

Even nowadays, political parties still propagate that the value of art is not in the message they proclaim. So what is the value of art? Some slogans:

  • Culture inspires, connects, and makes you think, which makes it of great value to society.
  • Because a flourishing, diverse, and high-quality art supply can make a significant contribution to social welfare, a substantial state share in the financing of art is justifiable.
  • To be able to connect and distinguish art, culture, and heritage. They help society to constantly reflect on itself.

Political direction
Politics is not only largely responsible for financing art. Politics also determines (to a considerable extent) the way in which people think about art – and the hardening of it. A term like ‘left-wing hobby’ will sound familiar to everyone these days. The political debate is part of the public debate. For example with a statement such as:
“The Residentie Orchestra is a trombone club that does not deserve a penny in subsidy”.

Major cultural cuts have been made since 2011. Cultural institutions are expected to be more financially independent and to listen more to the wishes of the general public. This theme broadcast of 1 Today examines the question of the effect of these cutbacks on art institutions.

Art as political propaganda
Art needs politics. Politics is important in the support base and provides facilitation and financing. But politics also needs art. In fact, in his essay ‘Post-propaganda’, artist Jonas Staal explains how even in the Netherlands the artist propagates the political system.

Art, he writes, makes power recognizable. As a historical example, he cites how filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl helped to give the Nazi regime a clear, recognizable face.

In the Netherlands, there is no dictatorial regime and officially there is no propaganda. But Staal emphasizes that there is also a form of propaganda in Western freedom. Art propagates freedom.

Art as a messenger of freedom
In the words of philosopher Kant, art has been given the freedom to, in popular terms, do whatever it pleases. Without having to justify itself and without having to convey a political or moral message.

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