Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Oath of the Horatii in 2011

Jacques Louis David, The Oath of the Horatii, 1784
(Musee du Louvre)
There always seems to be an interface that exists between art and politics that mirrors contemporary society with all its woes and grievances.  Although the world we live in today is quite different from 18th century France, after watching my brother, Cenk, make his announcement about the Wolf PAC, an organization aiming to stop the corporate takeover of our government, I was immediately reminded of Jacques-Louis David's famous painting of 1784, The Oath of the Horatii.  David's painting was a perfect projection of the volatile times France was living thorough and the proposed ideals of the philosophers of the Enlightenment.
The only ambiguity being in the form of royal patronage allowing this kind of propaganda to be displayed at the Salon.  But then again there are some examples that defy explanation when it comes to works of art that perforated the jurors to take their place on the walls of the Salon.  That being said, art and politics were always in some kind of cohesion in France whether it be the glorification of the Sun King, Louis XIV, Napoleonic Propaganda or as in the case of the Neoclassicism, the promotion of the republican ideals of ancient Rome.  The severe style of  neoclassicism obvious in The Oath of the Horatii, was a clear criticism of the  frivolous and amoral existence of the aristocracy which was mirrored in the Rococo works of art they so favored.  

 There are some very interesting parallels between the events leading up to the French Revolution and current state of affairs in  21st century America.  The situation we find ourselves in today, with the state of the economy, so many unemployed and in dire straits while big corporations and banks are in constant negotiations with the government over more rights and privileges,their CEO's adding insult to injury with their callous spending, recalls the18th century when the nobility, aristocracy and the clergy were immersed in excess while the rest of the country was starving to death.

A very clever friend said something the other day, that sums up the situation perfectly, I think. "Let them find jobs" is the new "Let them eat cake."  And here is my idea of the modern day The Oath of the Horatii...

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