Anarchist Art/Anarchism in (Visual) Art: What is it? Does it exist? Definition/analysis - with bibliography.

Essay by asphyxiaphiliaUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, June 2004

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Anarchism in (Visual) Art

My Attraction to this topic was spawned when the thought occurred to me, "I have never seen a work or movement labelled officially as Anarchist-art". It seems absurd that such a powerful ideology would not stir the hearts and minds of artists.

If we are to accept that there is no anarchist art then our view could easily be supported:

Art that challenges the status quo casts doubt on the ruling power, and so is potentially destabilizing. It is feasible, especially among totalitarian states, that Anarchist-art would for this reason be forcibly suppressed.

Communism has attracted considerable popularity but it is generally seen as the limit of radicalism. Perhaps anarchism is too extreme to be taken seriously.

Political aesthetic is often produced by a government. As there has never been an anarchist 'government' Anarchist-art lacked this impetus.

But it all seems too convenient, if one looks hard enough it will be seen that the art world is rife with anarchistic sentiment.

And so with the assumption that anarchist art does exist this essay begins.

Anarchism is a notoriously elusive subject. Attempts to reveal its nature are rewarded with a wealth of information though the sensitivity of the issue means that little is impartial. Of one pole people are fearfully ignorant and of the other are so passionately aroused that reason is forgotten.

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Illustration - Mark ROTHKO, 'untitled', 1954

Could this be Anarchist-art? Rothko was faithful and unrelenting in his style of painting. To him they were expressions of freedom. In many ways such an uplifting work is more akin to pure anarchism than would be an angsty piece on black and red.

Peace, philanthropy, utopia... anarchy? For most the word 'anarchy' invokes visions of...