What makes good political art?

Saturday 2 November, 13:1013:50, Frobisher 4-6Festival Attractions


It might seem axiomatic that political art should engage the public. Yet some art – such as that of the Venice Biennale – which professes to be political or ‘activist’, can sometimes sit in its own bubble. Venice’s annual festival, for example, has been criticised for failing to engage either with the Venetians or tourists.

In a sense, political art is all around us today – from feminist, green, and pro- and anti-Brexit art across Europe to the mingling of politics and art in advertising. If Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa was a work of protest art that has endured, and if the work of artists reflect the zeitgeist of the period, which art today deserves to be remembered?

How, too, should we judge contemporary forms of protest art? Is the artist’s viewpoint significantly different from anyone else’s? Why should we pay attention to what artists say about the world? And if we should pay attention to them, how can we judge their political art?