Politics on Paper

Art with an Agenda from the Syracuse University Art Collection

“Forget the Watergate, Let’s Talk about Daniel Ellsberg” lithograph by Paul Szep

“Forget the Watergate, Let’s Talk about Daniel Ellsberg” lithograph by Paul Szep

For centuries, art has been used as a vehicle to inform the public, to illustrate a point of view, and to incite change. The introduction of printmaking, and later photography, played a significant role in politics due to the ease in which multiples could be produced and distributed to the general public.  The new exhibit, Politics on Paper: Art with an Agenda from the Syracuse University Art Collection, uses drawings, prints and photos to examine the relationship between art and politics over time.

Jacques Callot (French, 1592-1635) is one of the earliest examples of artist as social commentator.  Trained as an engraver, he became well-known for his depictions of battles. His most important work, Les Grandes Miseres de la Guerre (1633), depicted the Europe’s Thirty Years War in a series of prints later inspiring Francisco Goya’s Capricios (1799) and Disasters of War (1810-1820) series, Käthe Kollwitz’s depictions of the Peasants’ Revolt in post-World War I Germany, and William Gropper’s stand against McCarthy-era politics.

The 19th century introduced the industrial press. Artists such as Thomas Nast, Honoré Daumier, and John Pughe found a soap box for their views in newspapers and magazines with social cartooning. Between the World Wars, the Works Progress Administration championed artists, such as Norman Rockwell, to deliver positive propaganda. By the 1960s, Robert Rauschenberg and Andy Warhol were reusing images from the media in their work to restate alternative points of view. At the same time, civil rights and race equality became central themes to many African American artists, including Calvin Burnett, Elizabeth Catlett, and Kara Walker. Gender issues, economic reform, and war continue to be represented in contemporary work.

The galleries are open Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11-8 and Fridays & Saturdays, 11-4.  Admission is free.

Free Museum Events

Gallery Talk, February 7, 6-8 pm
An insightful discussion of the exhibit with the Curator, Andrew Saluti.

Group Tours, Fridays January - March by appointment
Thought Provoking tours with audience participation. Contact Robert Presnar to make your appointment.

Meet the Candidates, February 21, 6-8 pm
A meet and greet with those running for local office. RSVP requested.