Can Americans handle conservative (and even ultra conservative) art?

The History Channel says there was no intention of connecting “Satan” to President Barack Obama, calling the idea “utterly ridiculous.” (Photo: History Channel)

So let me say right at the start that this isn’t a “trend” story.  There is no evidence  that “the arts” are producing more conservatives, or more ultra-conservatives.

But with the proliferation of right-of-center media outlets and the viral nature of the internet, we have interesting new windows into the world of ring-wing art and artists that might have flown under the radar in earlier generations.

Right now “The Bible” on the History Channel is drawing attention for its glowing and sometimes racy re-interpretation of, well, the Holy Book.

It’s a spin on Scripture that includes a Barack Obama look-alike in the role of — wait for it — Satan.  The series has been a hit.

Meanwhile, there’s a fascinating dust-up in the Pacific Northwest, where sculptor Charles Krafft was “outed” recently by a local weekly newspaper for embracing white nationalism and Holocaust deniers.

“I think he’s been demonized excessively,” Krafft said, referring to Adolph Hitler in an interview with public radio’s Studio 360.

“I’m not trying to resurrect National Socialism or Hitlerism, but my opinion of the man has changed considerably since I began my revisionist investigations.”

Krafft is a hugely respected artist, clearly a bright, thoughtful guy and a mainstay of the arts community in his region, whose work — including a Hitler-themed tea pot — has been collected by museums nationwide.

In the past, his fascinating explorations of Swastikas and other National Socialist symbolswere viewed as irony or transgression.

A work by Charles Krafft. Irony? Or some other form of political expression. (Photo: CharlesKrafft.com)

Now?  Not so much.

But his fringe-conservative views have sparked consternation and hand-wringing and Krafft’s entanglement isn’t unique.

Long-time “alt-folk” musician Michelle Shocked has drawn heavy fire recently after emerging as a vocal born again Christian and reportedly telling her audience that God “hates fags.”

“I live in fear,” Shocked said, “that the world will be destroyed if gays are allowed to marry.”

A similar controversy has long embroiled one of the country’s most respected and beloved writers.

Orson Scott Card, whose “Ender” series is a mainstay for young readers and sci-fi fans, has been vocal for years with his aggressively anti-homosexual views.

Card has written at length about the idea of an actual war embroiling the United States, pitting conservatives against liberals.

 

Orson Scott Card’s novel about an armed war between liberals and conservatives is described as a “disturbing look at a possible future” for America.

In a commentary written for the Mormon Times, Card seemed to embrace the idea of armed resistance if same-sex marriage is legalized.

“Marriage has only one definition, and any government that attempts to change it is my mortal enemy,” Card wrote. “I will act to destroy that government and bring it down.”

Those views forced DC comics to shelve plans to have Card pen a story for their Superman line of comics, and have also complicated plans for a Hollywood movie based on “Ender’s Game.”

As a side wrinkle, there is also a fascinating urban myth-style screed circulating that purports to share the anti-big-government views of Bill Cosby.

“I’m tired of being told that I have to “spread the wealth” to people who don’t have my work ethic. I’m tired of being told the government will take the money I earned, by force if necessary, and give it to people too lazy to earn it.”

Turns out the conservative tirade — which also targets Muslims and climate change activists — is a hoax, that lives virally via email and Facebook.

I think it’s fair to say that these kind of right-wing views are more shocking in the art and media world than comparable views on the left.

HBO acknowledged that the head on a pike in “Game of Thrones” looked uncomfortably like former President George W. Bush (Image: HBO)

(HBO did get in a spot of trouble when their “Game of Thrones” series included an image of George W. Bush’s severed head.)

But artists across the political spectrum have long been eccentric contrarians, embracing behavior and lifestyles that jar convention.

And I think it’s also probable that a lot of artists with right-leaning views keep them under tight wraps, for fear of facing the kind of backlash that has embroiled Krafft, Card and Shocked.

So what do you think?  When an artist you like stakes out a political position you disagree with — perhaps even a political position you find morally indefensible — do you stop reading his books or seeing her movies or buying his sculpture?

 

 

 

 

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56 Comments on “Can Americans handle conservative (and even ultra conservative) art?”

  1. wakeup says:

    I gonna start calling you Bandwagon Brian. The similiarity to Barack and the actor is nothing but a coincidence. Just like the actor playing Jesus bears a resemblance to the lead singer of the Spin Doctors. (made the second part up). :)

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  2. The Original Larry says:

    Another example of disingenuous double-talk! You say it isn’t a trend story and it isn’t about conservatives, but even a cursory reading shows it is exactly that. For example: “I think it’s fair to say that these kind of right-wing views are more shocking in the art and media world than comparable views on the left.” Like your repetitive blogs about gun control and what Republicans need to do, you claim objectivity but it’s always about a liberal agenda.

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  3. Will Doolittle says:

    Yes, I do. I don’t necessarily want to reject the art because of the artist’s ignorance (that’s what it is, no matter how supposedly smart a guy like Krafft is), but I find it impossible to enjoy the art in the same way. This has happened to me with one of my favorite writers, P.G. Wodehouse. Not only his flirtation with fascism, but also the occasional intrusion of racism into his works makes it hard for me to enjoy them, even though, mostly, he is the most enjoyable and entertaining of writers. Ditto Woody Allen. After he seduced, then married his teenage stepdaughter, I couldn’t approach his movies with an open mind. The art was tainted, for me, by what I saw as the artist’s personal transgression.

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  4. Brian says:

    Wakeup –

    I think it’s a bit more complicated than you suggest.

    For a couple of decades now, media products directed in significant measure at conservative and traditional audiences have included contextualized images and ideas that are designed to mean different things to their communities.

    Political activists, rather crudely, describe these as dog whistles. In theory, they’re heard only by the people they’re supposed to be heard by.

    The producers of “The Bible” miniseries have long appealed to a conservative, middle-American audience, with programs like “Touched By An Angel” and with their arguments in favor of including Bible education in American schools.

    They know their crowd.

    Meanwhile, anyone who is even modestly literate in the current climate of conservative traditionalism in America knows that Barack Obama is seen as a problematic figure, not only in political but also religious terms.

    Here’s a fairly moderate quote from last November.

    “I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all,” said Robert Jeffress, senior pastor at the First Baptist Church in Dallas.

    “President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist.”

    (www.christianpost.com/news/texas-megachurch-pastor-says-obama-will-pave-way-for-antichrist-84639/#bMg5BMPle3gseekD.99)

    So the producers of a series on this topic — the Christian Scripture — may not have intended a dog whistle by casting a black man who closely resembles the president in the role of Satan.

    But in the context of this cultural and political moment, if their casting choice wasn’t deliberate, then it was certainly a fairly oblivious thing to do.

    I’d be curious to know if someone, at some point on the movie set, didn’t say, “Guys, does it raise any alarms that our Satan looks a lot like the guy who a lot of our target audience thinks IS Satan?”

    –Brian, NCPR

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  5. The Original Larry says:

    Categorizing a philosophy you don’t agree with as “ignorance” is a bit much, don’t you think? Easy to get away with when the target is a neo-nazi but it doesn’t say much for your overall approach. By the way, when did National Socialism, Hitlerism and homophobia become “conservative”? More liberal crap.

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  6. Lapsed Catholic says:

    I have to paraphrase The Onion headline “Romney in hot water for stating GOP platform verbatim”.

    Orson Scott Card is basically saying it is better for hundreds of thousands of Americans to die violently than it is to let Jim & Bruce have a wedding registry at Bed, Bath, & Beyond.

    The right in this country has turned into a death cult, and has spent the last few decades using dire warnings of armageddon to scare people into submission. Illegal Immigrants are going to take your job! Black teens are going to rob you! Gays are going to force your church to marry them! Muslims are going to impose sharia law! Women are going to use birth control to take power away from men! Saddam Hussein is going to nuke us!

    Art is about beauty. Art based on the frightened, pants-peeing worldview of Conservatives is going to be bad.

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  7. Peter Hahn says:

    Personally, I think artist’s political/social views are irrelevant.

    For example, anytime someone does something like defend Hitler, as Mr Krafft evidently did, I am disappointed in them as humans, but it wouldnt effect my opinion of their work.

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  8. Pete Klein says:

    Al Pacino was the best Devil ever in the movie “The Devil’s Advocate.”
    As to the Bible series on the History channel, I watched one episode and was not impressed. I thought the title was presumptuous because it was too selective in the sections it chose to highlight and even on those it selected, too much was left out.
    You know this if you ever bothered to read the Bible from start to finish.
    My guess is they took the Classic Comic Book, Readers Digest approach because the wanted to get to the Easter story as quickly as possible.
    That said, movies have always delighted in filming portions of the Bible because they can get away with showing a fair amount of sex and violence without being accused of making a movie about sex and violence.

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  9. Will Doolittle says:

    No, Original Larry, I do not think categorizing homophobia or racism as ignorance is a bit much, not at all. I think both spring from ignorance and people who embrace them are ignorant. I think Krafft’s quote, “I think he’s been demonized excessively,” in reference to Hitler, is ignorant.
    I did not say that every philosophy not my own is ignorant. I don’t think that.

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  10. The Original Larry says:

    “So let me say right at the start that this isn’t a “trend” story. There is no evidence that “the arts” are producing more conservatives, or more ultra-conservatives.”

    Gee whiz, and I thought this wasn’t about conservatives. Isn’t that what the statement above says? Not only that, but now we are getting definitions of conservative thought that include National Socialism, Hitlerism, homophobia, pants-peeing, satanism, etc. Nothing like liberals taking the high road!

    Lapsed Catholic inadvertently summed up liberal philosophy: hatred is OK if the object of the hatred is something liberals don’t like.

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  11. The Original Larry says:

    Will Doolittle,
    Who made you the arbiter of what constitutes ignorance? That’s a pretty big job to take on.

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  12. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Conservative art has been around for a long time often it is religious in nature, like church icons or religious paintings, stained glass windows, etc. Much of it is very good and awe inspiring in the old fashioned sense.

    Often people of a conservative bent are doing work that is very traditional because that is their personal bent, examples would be traditional landscapes, still life paintings…

    We dont think too often about the politics of long dead artists except for maybe Wagner or Diego Rivera so it usually isnt an issue. Who knows what Van Gogh or Monet’s politics were?

    The thing with conservative art in the modern sense is that for the most part it is a non-sequeter. Most artists who are dealing with issue based work have moved beyond traditional thinking. The days of poster art in the vein of recruiting posters is passe in America. Propaganda art has mostly moved past Nazi and Soviet posters – not to forget our own Uncle Sam images. Today that sort of thing has gone viral, street art, and that sort of art makes conservatives heads explode. They don’t even think of it as art – it is all vandalism in their eyes.

    You could say, perhaps, that Ai Wiewie is a conservative thinker because his work is in reaction against authoritarianism, but that would be a stretch. Jeff Koons? Maybe he qualifies as a conservative because his work is mostly about making himself very rich.

    I’m sorry to say it, but most conservative art today is simply schlock. Bald eagles with red white and blue tails or wolves howling at a full moon.

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  13. Brian says:

    Original Larry –

    The blog post is actually a little more textured, and less polar, than you’re making out. A couple of points.

    First, yes, broadly speaking National Socialism is an ultra-conservative movement in America. I know a lot of right-of-center folks like to hang their hats on that pesky “socialism” word.

    But the NS and “white rights” movements in the US have no linkages whatsoever to the left or to liberalism, or to socialism for that matter.

    They are firmly rooted in the far right, often anchoring their views in (what I view as deeply misguided) readings of the Bible and tying their arguments to strict Constitutionalism.

    So when Charles Krafft hangs out with people who embrace “white nationalism,” he is clearly embracing an ultra-conservative ideology.

    Similarly, opposition to homosexual rights has been a firmly conservative posture. Orson Scott Card is widely viewed as connected to the conservative movement within the Mormon church.

    And yes, the posture that Michelle Schocked embraces here is firmly connected to ultra-conservative Christian views.

    Finally, I don’t ‘think these three artists represent “a trend.”

    But I do think their ultra-right wing views, taken together, are interesting and thought-provoking, especially coming from three widely respected and talented artists.

    –Brian, NCPR

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  14. BRFVolpe says:

    The book is better than the movie. And in my mind’s eye, (“the pictures are better in the theater of the mind”), Mary is not a well-tressed Anglo, and Jesus’ dad is a wise old man who looks like a grandfather. But hey, it’s a movie! How do you hype a movie with commercials where the main characters look like they are poor people from the Middle East? They don’t want people to think that they were Jews or Muslims. What corporation would buy commercials to sell a movie that portrayed THOSE kind of people?

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  15. Gay people are tired of being told by Jihadists like Card that they have to work hard and follow the rules and pay the same taxes as everyone else but aren’t permitted to have the same rights as everyone else. B-s! No wonder theocrat scum like him always resort to armed threats. They know they can’t win with their medieval arguments any other way.

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  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    In my last sentence above I am leaving out the examples of traditional art I started talking about. Got distracted with actual work part way through the post, sorry.

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  17. Brian says:

    Guys – Keep it civil please. Too much talk of ‘crap’ and ‘scum.’ Use your words — just not THOSE words.

    :)

    –Brian, NCPR

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  18. JDM says:

    “I think it’s fair to say that these kind of right-wing views are more shocking in the art and media world than comparable views on the left.”

    Is this an admissions that liberals are less tolerant than conservatives?

    You place Nazi symbols in an article about an “ultra-conservative”. Fine. You have supporting evidence to do so.

    Please be as tolerant when analogies are made concerning confiscation of guns as being “Nazi-like”. When government take-over of businesses is “Nazi-like”. When take-over of free speech is “Nazi-like”.

    There are lots of things done on the left, as well as on the right, that are “Nazi-like”.

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  19. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    To be fair JDM, Naziism was a rightist movement. Stalinism was a left wing movement that was equally as despicable on the left.

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  20. Peter Hahn says:

    Brian – I have to agree with Original Larry on the semantic dispute. These people are “right wing” but not sure its fair to call them conservative (not fair to conservatives). Im not sure what “ultra-conservative” means outside of a religious context. It does get used as you use it though (according to google).

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  21. Mervel says:

    Was there this concern over “Piss Christ”?

    Art is often shocking and or sometimes just bad, and sometimes it is racist, sexist, etc.

    It all depends on your perspective, at least here artists do have a zone of absolute freedom at least right now. I do wonder if things like the murder of the Danish artist by Muslims will put a chill into some art expressions? Christians have not been violent against art that denigrates our faith and our God in those same ways. Hopefully all sides of the political spectrum will live up to the American ideal.

    For me the answer to your question is no, the politics of the artist for me should be totally separate from the art. I find some of Mapplethorpe’s art to be very disgusting and offensive, but some other of his work quite moving and beautiful, I think the particular art expression should stand alone.

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  22. Will Doolittle says:

    Larry,
    I make me the arbiter of what I consider ignorant. You want to disagree and defend homophobia and racism as enlightened? Be my guest.

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  23. TomL says:

    Not necessarily a ‘liberal-conservative’ thing, but once again the evil figure (Devil) is dark-skinned, and the revered figure (Jesus) is light-skinned and northern-european looking. Just as in ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ and many other bible’ish epics. Or quasi Bible epics like Lord of the Rings (dark-skinned Orcs vs Aragorn & the Elves) or the original Star Wars (Darth Vader vs Luke & Leia). Of course Darth Vader started out euro as a kid, and only became James Earl Jones once he went bad. I have seen paintings of scenes from the Book of Mormon, where evil dark-skinned Indians prepare to slaughter the suspiciously european-looking heroic Lost Tribe of Israel. There are exceptions (like the Al Pacino character mentioned above) but those cases seem to be done to make it a twist against expectations. The ‘Mark of Cain’ stereotype still exists in art and culture.

    This iconography has long roots in art and popular culture, and continues to be perpetuated. It seeps into our psyche, and makes it that much easier to imagine that, say, the an African-American President really is an agent of the ‘anti-Christ’… he looks the part in many people’s minds.

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  24. Brian M: it does raise the question of how does one deal “civilly” with people like Card who advocate using violence to impose their political views.

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  25. Mike says:

    Brian MOFYC-

    This is the first time I have read that gay marriage was going to result in armed fighting. I doubt he would get very far, but it is always some beef or another. And it is often a different group with the guns. At the moment it is angry, or crazy, white people, it seems.

    I do find these people scary, but what to do? Not much really. Give these people a lot of space and stay out of their way? It isn’t too different from all the riots and madness of busing school kids in the cities in the 1970s. Now busing is something from history and we don’t think about it. Our nation goes thru these changes from time to time. But we do get thru them somehow.

    Seems the number of homes with guns has been dropping for years. But gun and ammo sales continue. So it must be that smaller numbers of people own more guns and ammo, no? And they make no argument now about hunting….nope, they are for “protection”. From what, you might ask since crime and prison numbers are going down.

    Maybe one day, they will take to the streets with their guns. But what is different now is the internet and social media provide many ways for the government to keep track of these sorts of developments and while they may get nasty, they are unlikely to alter the direction of the nation. Ironically, the more public these people are, the more they expose themselves to various government and opposition groups.

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  26. dave says:

    “At the moment it is angry, or crazy, white people, it seems.”

    When, in this country, has it ever not been this group?

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  27. Mervel says:

    I think the Passion of the Christ is a good example speaking of “Jesus” movies. Mel Gibson is crazy as a loon; but that movie is excellent.

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  28. Pete Klein says:

    Cheers for Dave.
    Often when watching “Criminal Minds,” I have thought the program could just as well be called “Insane White Men.”
    To be fair to the gun folks, most of the idiots on Criminal Minds seldom use guns because they like to inflict slower and more painful ways to kill.

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  29. Bob Falesch says:

    “I think it’s fair to say that these kind of right-wing views are more shocking in the art and media world than comparable views on the left…But artists across the political spectrum have long been eccentric contrarians, embracing behavior and lifestyles that jar convention.”

    That juxtaposition would seem to be self-neutralizing, Brian, but I’m loving your attempt to address this subject. A related subject, “art-for-art’s-sake” versus “programmatic-art”, is an area I get particularly exercised about, so I’m tending to look at it from that point of view (one that is neutral as to whether the subject artist leans left or leans right). I’m going to write off your example artists as kooks and just move on. The kooks are always lurking and I think a discussion of their politics could be just as applicable as one about nut jobs from the clergy or from U.S. politics.

    In the great works (sure, I’m being subjective here), the artist’s political position does not at all come through in the art anyway. I trust not a single autobiographical word coming from the mouths of the artists whose work I couldn’t live without and whose work I find ineffable. One of the things that makes great art great is work that cries out for one to come to one’s own conclusion about a “meaning”, if one deigns to bother finding one. It is art that does not readily reveal itself. I’m usually happy enough just to be knocked over by a work’s transcendent beauty; meaning or “message” be damned!

    When an “artist I like” stakes out a political position I disagree with, I’m not likely to even know about it because it’s the work I like and it’s the work I’m consuming, not the artist’s life, which usually seems excruciatingly banal compared to the art itself. To me, the greatest art works live a separate existence from their creators. I have found artist biographies, not to mention autobiographies, misleading and have often done me a terrible disservice.

    In the remote possibility a work of art represents a position I find morally indefensible (“remote” because the art I tend to bother with is generally not representational), right, I’m not likely to bring it close to my heart. Am I going to judge the artist’s work or come to some conclusion about the artist’s style based on one piece of art? Absolutely not. When I become familiar with a larger part of that artist’s output from a long period of his/her life I might be in a position to make some conclusion about the artist as a person (never about the politics, only about the interior struggle), but I’m generally unable to make it that far if, for whatever reason, the art does not move me.

    but…
    Jarring convention is good.
    Eccentrics; contrarians, unite! :–)

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  30. The Original Larry says:

    You disappoint me, Will Doolittle, I thought a clever guy like you would understand that my objection was to your judgemental style. Nobody cares what you say about National Socialism but it becomes more of a problem when you judge “conservatives” or decide who is a conservative or whose views are too “extreme” for you. Disagreement with you doesn’t make me a defender of homophobia or racism. Implying that I am makes you look like an ass. You can do so much better.

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  31. The Original Larry says:

    Brian,
    Don’t you think it is more accurate to descrbe National Socialism as a radical or extremist philosophy? Trying to paint modern American conservatives with the nazi brush is inaccurate and needlessly provocative. Kind of like continuing to call Democrats the party of segregation, no?

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  32. Mervel says:

    Great art is not owned by the artist anyway.

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  33. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I heard a guy on the radio recently who had been a consultant on ancient Aramaic for “the Passion of the Christ”,
    he didn’t seem to think it was a very good movie but he thought the Aramaic was well done.

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  34. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I love lists, so let’s start one.

    Famous Conservative artists:
    (this would be a very hard Jeopardy category for me) Ronald Reagan, Charlton Heston, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson, Ted Nugent, (Hmm there is a pattern here) Janine Turner, Drew Carey, Meatloaf, Mel Gibson, bunches of country musicians. Okay I’m starting to flounder here. Thomas Kinkade! Okay I give up.

    Famous liberal artists:
    At least one of the Dixie Chicks, Susan Sarandon, Wayne Coyne, Christo, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen, all but one of the Ramones, Joe Strummer, Shepard Fairey, Alicia Silverstone, Christina Applegate, Jon Stewart, George Grosz, Al Franken, Whoopie Goldberg, Barbara Striesand, Sean Penn –I thought this would be a little easier –um, Neil Young (Canadian!), Linda Ronstadt, Ellen Degeneres, Tom Hanks,

    I can think of a fair number of fine artists, painters, sculptors, etc and I’m pretty sure many of them are liberals but I don’t know for sure. Some could be conservative. Many may be non-political.

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  35. Brian Mann says:

    This guy has probably already been mentioned — but one of my favorite artists is playwright David Mamet, whose politics are distinctly right-wing. Mamet wrote a book about his shift from the left to the right called The Secret Knowledge. Other favorite conservative artists of mine: CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, William Buckley, and Robert Heinlein…

    –Brian, NCPR

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  36. mervel says:

    I like all of those artists also Brian.

    Knuckle I liked the Aramaic because I didn’t notice it, the flow was there. Certainly I would be biased to like this movie I totally understand that.

    Knuckle don’t forget in your pop artist list, Dennis Miller on the conservative side. I thought that the Republicans really really blew it by having grandpa Eastwood speak instead of Dennis Miller, I think it showed there problem.

    Kurt Vonnegut is always a favorite of mine. Politically, who knows? Probably a libertarian-socialist….

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  37. mervel says:

    What was Faulkner’s political leanings?

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  38. mervel says:

    I also really like Tom Merton and Flannary O’Connor; certainly they would not be a politicaly conservative, but likely social conservative’s on some issues. Some of these artists really don’t belong in any sort of political box, which is always kind of small minded to force them into one.

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  39. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Ezra Pound.

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  40. TomL says:

    Tim Robbin’s fine movie ‘The Cradle Will Rock’, has a scene of Diego Rivera debuting his Rockefeller Center mural ‘Man at the Crossroads’ to the person who commissioned it – the young Nelson Rockefeller. Rockefeller objects to Vladimir Lenin’s image in the mural (Rivera was an open Communist). Rivera responds ‘Who do you think I am – Frederick Remington?’.

    Rockefeller fired Rivera and had the mural chipped off, and later hired a US muralist to paint a much more conventional and ‘patriotic’ mural.

    Here is a brief documentary on it, and the aftermath: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9B6L9geSpng

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  41. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Good one Tom. One small clarification, Rockefeller paid Rivera in full, since they had a contract, before Rivera was dismissed.

    It is an interesting case. Capitalist v Communist. Rivera was flexible in that he was willing to add Lincoln to the fresco but Rockefeller was inflexible and destroyed a monumental piece of artwork by one of the world’s greatest artist simply because it depicted a few things Rockefeller didn’t like.

    Remember how worked up everyone got about the Taliban destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyan?

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  42. The Original Larry says:

    Very interesting film, TomL, thanks.

    “Art outlives politics”

    It certainly does, and makes those who judge based on politics look like fools.

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  43. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    “Art outlives politics”

    Um, actually, as we have seen, art often doesn’t survive politics, religion or war. The list is very long from Egyptian Pharos who had their predecessor’s names carved off of temples, to nearly every Greek or Roman statue that which had the nose broken off because they were seen as pagan, to Leonardo’s monumental horse statue used as target practice by invading French troops, to the Sphinx which French invaders blew the nose off of, to the Parthenon which was first blown up by Turks then had their frieze stolen by Lord Elgin, to graffiti art destroyed daily.

    Every war ends with the destruction of works of art.Destruction of tombs of ancient saints in Mali and libraries in Timbuktu. The firebombing of Dresden. Carpet bombing of Vietnam. The list is endless.

    Our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan destroyed countless pieces of ancient art, that is, of the works that weren’t stolen, and works are being plundered daily from ancient sites around the world because of a lack of security.

    Ai Weiwei famously destroyed ancient Chinese vases as part of his own art, an act that is generally interpreted as a commentary on how China (in the specific instance) destroys ancient heritage in pursuit of modernization. And we sometimes seem almost more worried about the destruction of ancient objects just because they are old than we are worried about destroying lives of people or animals or the environment.

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  44. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Hmm, nobody liked Ezra Pound. I thought he was a really good example of a controversial conservative artist who’s work was tainted by his politics forever afterward but still recognized as a powerfully influential figure even while people still debate the value of his own work.

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  45. The Original Larry says:

    Watch the video and you will understand the statement better.

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  46. Pete Klein says:

    I have a problem with the word “artist” but having said that, they tend to have one thing in common. They like to bug people, be they right or left leaning.
    Often they relish in being Court Jesters.

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  47. Will Doolittle says:

    Yes, KHL. It’s easy to say art outlives politics, because art creates something physical, usually, an object that can last a long time. But the influence of political movements and political leaders can also last a long time, and influence history for millennia.

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  48. Will Doolittle says:

    The influence of Genghis Khan, for example, on the modern world is probably greater than any single artist.

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  49. dave says:

    While reading this I can’t help but think of George W’s paintings from his hacked email…

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/22/george-bush-paintings-revealed-email-hack-discloses-more-art_n_2931367.html

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  50. ” Trying to paint modern American conservatives with the nazi brush is inaccurate and needlessly provocative.”

    It really isn’t any different than those calling Pres. Obama and the Democrats “socialists” and “communists.” Stalin probably was responsible for more deaths than even Hitler.

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