Response To Discussion Posted

I need to respond to this discussion post and have no idea what to say. Please help

The 1930’s saw the beginning of anti-fascist images. Publications swaying to the left, or in support of the Communist ideology portrayed mostly cartoons that forwarded the communist or socialist agenda. This agenda was mainly the “promotion of the rights of workers and their fight against capitalism and fascism (Pohl 441-442). The American Artists’ Congress, a group made up of many artists who represented the far left and socialist movement existed from 1935-1942. At one time, the Congress had approximately 900 artist members. This group was born out of other groups such as the John Reed Clubs. John Reed Clubs were intensely focused on fighting capitalism and were mainly of Socialist party allegiance. With the rise of Adolf Hitler of Germany, Mussolini of Italy and Hirohito of Japan, fascism was on the rise. Joseph Stalin, leader of Russia was now more concerned about fighting fascism than capitalism. As a result, Socialist groups within the United States were shifting their priorities to fall in concert with the preachings of Stalin.

In her book Anti-fascism in American Art, Cecile Whiting notes that “the debate during the 1930’s and 1940’s over the function of images in the fight against fascism was complex.” It was not clear weather artists should even weigh in with their art. Some wondered or suggested if it would be more advantageous to enlist and fight. In addition, if they were going to work, in what style? Should they paint the war itself? Should they paint pro-democracy pieces? Like Whiting said, “it was complex.”

At the same time, Spain was under attack by the fascist Falange Party. This, along with Stalin’s shift, prioritizing the fight against fascism over capitalism influenced many American artists in their composition decisions. Groups like the American Artists’ Congress pushed their members to represent the groups support in their subject matter. They began creating pieces that did exactly that. Fully developed oils paintings were now being done in contrast to the cartoons at the beginning of the era. Solemn portrayals or the depiction of loss were becoming more frequent. Works like a cartoon drawing in New Masses, July 1934 by William Gropper showed the eminent destruction of capitalism and fascism evolved into oil on canvas and screen prints focused on fascism alone. One shining example of this is Harry Sternberg’s Fascism. In my opinion, this piece is a disturbing, yet it is a telling example of the destruction that fascism left in it’s wake.

I think that the imagery of this time period probably served to influence the public, particularly in America to support the fight against fascism. America was extremely individualistic at that time and not as ready as it is today to step into someone elses conflict. Of course we had no other choice to join the fight when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, but prior to that, the government was hesitant. The public perception, based on artist imagery, may have had a resounding effect on our decision as well.

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