62 POLITICS AND POLEMICS

ART CAN SOMETIMES ADVOCATE, TAKE A POSITION, OR PERSUADE

From time to time, artworks have taken on a powerful voice in public debate. However, since political crises tend to be a product of a particular time and place, they rarely make lasting subject matter for painting or sculpture. Here are a number of potent polemical images that have stood the test of time.

The Disasters of War, 1810–20. Françesco Goya (1746–1828). A suite of etchings that makes a ferocious attack on the brutality and debasement that war inevitably generates. The images use a deadpan descriptive style and bitingly sarcastic titles to bring the events depicted uncomfortably close to the viewer.

The Raft of the Medusa, 1868–9. Théodore Géricault (1791–1824). ...

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