Curator's Perspective: "Art and War: Propaganda, Conscience, and the Power of Objectivity" Presented by Frist Center Chief Curator, Mark Scala
This lecture will consider the historical representation of war in the context of the exhibitions Goya: The Disasters of War and Steve Mumford’s War Journals, 2003–2013. While much war-related art has functioned as propaganda—diminishing the humanity of the enemy and emphasizing the glorious defense of homeland or ideology—other art employs extreme emotionalism to open eyes and hearts to the brutality of war. A third path, meant to dispassionately record the day-to-day reality of a war zone, avoids overt propagandizing or emotional manipulation. The artist-as-realist might say “I make no judgment. It is up to you to deduce a larger narrative, place blame, or probe more deeply into the causes of the conflict.” The lecture will raise questions: Why do artists depict conflict? How and by whom are their images used? Does their work change anything?