Politics

Many artists in the 1980s and 1990s were committed to the idea that art can be a platform to express opinions about the most urgent concerns of the day, which included troubling events such as the AIDS epidemic and the police beating of Rodney King as well as ongoing struggles for civil rights and equality. Time and again, artists whose drawings, paintings, and sculptures offer critical commentary on art's very purpose have also taken up political subjects (as well as their depictions in the media)—whether civil rights, gay rights, feminism, gun control, globalization, terrorism, or the military-industrial complex. Indeed, since the 1970s museums themselves have been the focus of protests by artists and others in the art world because of the lack of diversity in their programming and staffing and their ties to corporate hegemony and dubious capitalist activities for their funding. As seen in several pieces featured in this gallery, works that purposefully take up divisive political subjects are often committed to plumbing normative forms of representation. The body frequently figures prominently, portrayed as under duress or fighting against injustice. The impulse to tie the concerns of art to those of society and politics and the embrace of the radical potential of art to stake positions and participate in debate have remained central to the practices of the artists included in the exhibition. 

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citation for this page
"Politics." Take It or Leave It: Institution, Image, Ideology Digital Archive. Los Angeles: Hammer Museum, 2017. https://​hammer.ucla.edu/​take-it-or-leave-it/​art/​themes/​politics/​.