Are you as fed up as me of hearing that if you want to get on as an artist, you should steer clear of politics?
The perceived wisdom is that art and politics don’t mix. After all, you don’t want to alienate potential clients...
But are art and politics necessarily a bad thing to put together?
80 years ago Pablo Picasso painted his iconic painting - Guernica. The painting was his response to the bombing of a village by the same name in the Basque region of northern Spain, by Nazi German and Fascist Italian warplanes at the request of the Spanish Nationalists.
Picasso allowed influential visitors into his studio to observe the progress of the painting, believing that the publicity to be gained would help the antifascist cause.
Despite an initially cool reception, Guernica was soon being sent to numerous exhibitions, initially to collect funds for the republican side in the war, and later just because of its fame.
To this day Guernica remains one of the world’s most most influential paintings. About a million people visit it every year at Madrid’s Reina Sofia Museum.
Can a Broadway play unseat the US President?
80 years on, the controversial American film-maker Michael Moore is also hoping to use publicity for a political end: He is putting on a play - The Terms of My Surrender - in the hope that it will unseat the president of the United States.
“We’ve seen newspapers take down presidents, TV shows bring down CEOs, books have taken down the powerful — art forms have contributed to making things better...Why don’t we see if...a piece of theater could raise enough of a ruckus to discombobulate a man sitting in the Oval Office? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. ”Michael Moore
In retrospect, no-one looks at Guernica and criticizes Picasso for making an unequivocal political statement. And it certainly didn’t affect his career.
History shows that there IS a time to stand up and be counted. Michael Moore is embracing his.
Maybe we should do the same?