The Art Political (part 3)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Well, the presidential campaigns keep grinding on with no signs of resolution. McCain's off in Iraq, and Obama and Clinton are trying not to squabble too obviously.

Back in the realm of art....we'll skip over Constantine and move right along to an interesting mosaic from Emperor Justinian. Justinian faced a great many problems in his rule and very nearly lost his crown. He was, in fact, saved only by his co-regent, Theodora, who refused to give in to riots and danger and successfully rode out their problems.

In order to put up a strong front, Justinian utilized church imagery to reinforce his political position. As this mosaic shows, Justinian styled himself a representative of God. His purple robes and halo show his majesty and position as pontif-in-chief; his prominent position in the composition let's everyone know who is in charge.
After Justinian, one of the next big leaders in the West to use art to advance his political agenda was Charlemagne. Charlamagne is responsible for the creation of the lower-case alphabet and advancing education in the Dark Ages. He also fought the Iconoclasts who wanted to remove certain types of imagery from the theological sphere because Charlemagne recognised the power of art to help educate the masses.
The next major breakthrough came with Martin Luther and the use of movable type printing. This actually became something of an explosion as pamphlets with political cartoons began to circulate in force. Once the damn had been broken, the flow of information only increased to deluge proportions.

Next week...a bit of Revolutionary France's political art.


Lineberry said...

What a great series! Wonderful blog!

tori said...

Thanks, I really appreciate it :)

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