By Olivia Kavidias
Political art has been expressed all throughout history, from the 1900s to the present, the victorious and the painfully chaotic. With the 2016 election resulting in an uprising amongst American citizens everywhere, the timing is perfect for nearly 100 works of art to be on auction at Paddle8, a company which holds art and design auctions, featuring artists from all backgrounds, from Warhol and Lichtenstein to Chuck Close and Rashid Johnson. These campaigning pieces include figures like Trump, Obama, Clinton, the American flag, and the dollar bill.
Throughout history, political discussion has been a battleground for those putting their opinions on the field. With art, you can express these opinions with style, texture, value, and color. Even though these specific works going on auction are quite controversial, political art lets every viewer have a different idea of what is being delivered in the art. Robert Longo’s “Black Flag,” done in 1989, can send many different messages to those who view it, depending on their own personal opinions, or what is happening in the world at the moment. For example, one might see a flag, dressed in black acrylic, but another person could read the painting as communicating the world’s division during the recent election. Art like Longo’s doesn’t always have to be timely to be relevant or enjoyed. Other works like “Money Laundering,” by Stephan Gagnon, (2004), have a very clear message; it was done the year the Money Laundering Act of 2003 was repealed.
But pieces of this auction are not all obsolete. “Vote Hillary,” by Deborah Kass, was done in 2016, referring to the election, and copying the style of Andy Warhol in a very similar political piece.
Pictorial politics engages everyone from young to grown, encouraging them to develop an interest and respect of broad ideas. Maybe the selling of these works will encourage people to be a little less grey toward discussing politics and a little more red, white, and blue.