Time after time, we have constantly been reminded of how unkind and inertly selfish humans have been, consistent with how people have been uninterested in sharing knowledge and how the concept of people being treated fairly and respectfully is a utopia which can never be achieved realistically.
The world of cinema, music and art has, however, shown us many things that contradict the idea of self-centred humankind, unity and human solidarity. In today’s article, we’ll look at the fascinating relationship between art and socialism and how it has evolved and impacted our lives over the centuries. Let’s get started.
Capitalism evolved from feudalism, a system that portrayed perpetual war between the monarchs and the lords over land; the church stayed as the dominating political and ideological force, and people choose to accept their God-given place in the world without objection.
The Bourgeoisie, however, in the early stages, played an extremely progressive role. It is recognized as a key class for evolving mankind out of the feudal system. The bourgeoisie established a system of business and trade for themselves that could exist independently of the church and crown, and the rise of the bourgeoisie initiated a huge advancement in the arts. Art was no longer regarded as a means of displaying only the majesty of God. Art was now a means of displaying one’s position in the world, a way of showcasing intellectual knowledge of the classical past, individual importance, and the beauties of nature in the world.
Amongst many intellectual artists, the most well-known was Leonardo da Vinci, an artist that sought not just glory and fame but also an understanding of the material world and its intricacies. Leonardo’s greatest contributions to work were his scientific drawings, which possessed something extraordinary that was fundamentally understandable to everyone. The famous painting of a foetus in the womb was a striking example of scientific work and pure observation to portray a process every human has been through.
The Golden Age
Since Leonardo, observations to understand the beauty of humanity have been carried on by artists as well as people from various professions. The 17th century was the Dutch golden age. The Dutch Republic was majorly Protestant, and its bourgeoisie was extremely proud of its material success. People from different social standings in society began buying art of different kinds. The lower economic class opted for cheaper painting with genre scenes, which included still life, depictions of comics portraying quack doctors, prostitutes, drunkards, etc., and art that was simple and easy to understand by everyone. The wealthier classes would prefer to have their portraits painted, reflecting their worth. The Dutch started to take pride in being able to own individual artwork.
The Dutch Golden Age also spawned another outstanding artist—Jan Vermeer. He lived a simple and humble life, painting small pictures that showcased intense beauty and quality. Long before photographers became obsessed with capturing daily life, Vermeer was seen painting quiet and intimate scenes of the Dutch middle class. He attempted to paint pictures to show the viewer their uninteresting and dull moments, like a lady reading a letter or a kid playing on the streets, with intense care. He displayed the beauty of everyday life that most people miss if they don’t pay attention.
Numerous well-known painters, such as, who worked primarily for the Catholic Church in Rome and whose work was dedicated to religious works and everyday reality on the streets of Rome-beggars, prostitutes, criminals, poverty, and the religious aspects around him-rose in the late 17th century.
Art and Socialism
The humanity witnessed in these artworks isn’t anything strange to understand as it helps people still connect and therefore be understood as a medium of connection.
Socialism is a way to re-connect mankind and eliminate the hatred and exploitation brought by capitalism. In the development of humankind, the bringing of people together to overthrow their oppressors is considered of infinite value.
Art, since history, has been seen and understood as a powerful medium to influence people and hence cannot or should not be seen as a useless element or a luxury reserved for those who seem to have too much money or time. Art has reflected anything else but the beauty of human existence. Art has, of course, never been as necessary as food and shelter, but rather it has been present to offer consolation and provide a reason to live, and that is something we need. Without any means of understanding life artistically, it has left us with a hollow or empty way of existence.
Art is a definite force of reflection and a driving force for life. Under the influence of socialism, the alienation of working people from culture and art will be destroyed. Art could or possibly finally take the place in the current society that it could not earlier.
- Marxists.org. 2022. William Morris – Art and Socialism. [online] Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/morris/works/1884/as/as.htm
[Accessed 17 July 2022].
- 2022. [online] Available at: https://www.socialist.net/art-and-socialism.htm
[Accessed 17 July 2022].