Take-Home Final: Art and the State

Please submit typed answers to the following questions at the beginning of our final class on June 6th.

Essay Questions (Answer 3 of 3: 90%)

1) Midcentury American Regionalism, the art of the Nazi Racial State, and Soviet Socialist Realism were all state-sponsored or state-sanctioned schools of art that promoted a certain kind of representational aesthetic that questioned the critical attention once paid to the abstract avant-gardes of Paris and Berlin after World War I. However, all three traditions defined realism, beauty, and appropriate gender roles differently. Discuss the differences between these three contemporaneous artists in a coherent essay about their government sponsored depictions of the female form.

What sexual politics is supported by state and national governments? Is nudity depicted or is the female body clothed? What is the relationship between corporality and sensuality in these images? Are women depicted as powerful or as objects of the male gaze? Are these idealized women representing allegorical figures or specific women with personal histories occupying class roles? How does the deptiction of women's bodies support (or subvert) state interests? To what degree are these artists representative of the national aesthetics of their time?

2) Film has been an important vehicle for messages promoting nationalism and other forms of allegiance to the nation-state. Cinema also encourages audience members to participate in particular ways of looking that may have a political dimension as well. Going beyond the newsreels, educational films, and patriotic melodramas that have been relevant to the subject matter of this class, our reading has argued that film aesthetics have also informed other genres of state-sponsored and state-sanctioned art. Write an essay describing the cinematic qualities of the work of artists painting in the tradition of Soviet Socialist Realism and compare that interpretation of film aesthetics into easel painting with the cinematic attributes that Zhang Yimou brings to the live spectacle with thousands of performers that launched the 2008 Beijing Olympics. How do the conventions of editing, compositing, camera work, and cinematography shape political messages from the Soviet Union and China?

3) Throughout the twentieth century governments have played an important curatorial role showcasing the cultural products of their nations to spectators at home and abroad. Write about 3-5 exhibitions that we have discussed in this class from the following list:

How do governments understand experience design? How do they manage what audiences see and what they expect from a show of either art or design? How do they work with systems of classification? How do they organize indoor or outdoor exhibition space?

Short Answer Questions (Answer 5 of 5: 10%)

1) Why did Alex Tarr say that the image of the library in the Coit Mural Archive was both conventional and controversial?

2) How does Benedict Anderson explain the emotional and cultural power of nationalism?

3) Give two reasons why Harlan's melodramas appealed to Nazi ideology?

4) Kennedy argued that thirties New Deal muralism avoided allegorical or symbolic representations in favor of documenting the lives of specific individuals and real people. Describe an example of New Deal art that either proves or disproves Kennedy's claim.

5) Why does Cockcroft describe the Museum of Modern Art as a "war contractor"?