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"Is Modern Art Political?"

I don't know if modern art in and of itself is political, but I think I read or saw on TV somewhere that psychological research shows that people who like modern or abstract art tend to be more politically liberal, and those who don't like it tend to be more politically conservative. I'm very interested in brain biology and how brain biology can explain lots of ways of thinking and behaving, and brain biology is affected by the environment. In other words: are our brains wired one way or another that would make us interpret politics, as well as art, along lines that correlate.

On political issues, foreign, economic, and domestic, I'm fairly pragmatic and centrist, and I think it's good to take good ideas from the Right, as well as from the Left; that said, I lean slightly towards the Left.

I also like paintings that are fairly abstract-to a degree, so Picasso is about as far as I go; as long as there's a recognizable image there, even a distorted one. Anything that is so abstract that it's down to lines and colors I'm willing to enjoy at an art museum or in a book on art history, but I wouldn't want a reproduction for my house. With classical music, I can go to the extremes, though, and I have many CDs by the likes of Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Messiaen, Cage, Xenakis, Boulez, etc.

It would be interesting if people could volunteer their political leanings along with their tastes in abstract art/music so we could determine if a correlation exists.
 

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I'm disappointed to learn that Webern had some nice things to say about Hitler. Then again, Luigi Dallapiccola also supported Mussolini up until Mussolini ordered the invasion of Abyssinia and then aligned himself with Hitler and brought Hitler's master race philosophy to Italy; which affected Dallapiccola personally as his wife was Jewish. If anyone could somehow make 12-tone music sound bouncy and bright it was Dallapiccola, but his music takes a darker turn after he became disillusioned with Mussolini.

Along a similar line, Webern does seem to praise Hitler some time prior to the war and the holocaust, the same as Dallapiccola praised Mussolini prior to the invasion of Abyssinia. So who knows how Webern's views would have evolved had he lived to see the full cost that Hitler's regime cost Germany and all of Europe?

Ironically, in a way, it was Hitler and the war that killed Webern. Wasn't he accidentally shot by an American soldier?
 

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The art itself is probably mostly non-political. But modern art is promoted and used for political purposes.

As left forces want to overturn the old social order, they want to replace the old art too, because it was created under the old social order and is somewhat connected to it.

But left is a diffuse term. Eastern marxists acted very differently. They demanded social realist art and modern art was forbidden. I think cultural marxists may be the proper term for the political advocates of modern art.

Cultural marxists fight everything with a artistic value, because they think it is a concept of the past. They fight even moderat modern art because it still has a artistic value. But they like the extreme modern art, and it is indeed hard to believe that it has any artistic value and wasn't created just for ideological reasons.
What is "Cultural Marxism"? Some poster here even has it as an avatar. I thought Marxism was a theory on economics not culture; and I don't know that Marx or Engels spent much time discussing art and music.
 

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There's more to it than that. I think Marx specifically had the idea of critiquing the capitalist discourses inherent in various forms of expression. Marxism comes from "critical theories" developed by a hoard of philosophers coming after. It's got firm hold of academia.
I'm no expert but I think they DID theorize specifically about culture and they might well have spent a lot of time discussing at least art.
Well I hear the term "Cultural Marxism" being bandied about from those on the right who seem to find fault with things such as multiculturalism and political correctness, and while the limits of those ideas may warrant debate, I don't fully understand the connection that is made to Marxism, a theory that I always thought was about economics and a redistribution of wealth. The poster, "Aries" states that:

"Cultural marxists fight everything with a artistic value, because they think it is a concept of the past. They fight even moderat modern art because it still has a artistic value. But they like the extreme modern art, and it is indeed hard to believe that it has any artistic value and wasn't created just for ideological reasons."

An example may be helpful. Who are the "Cultural Marxists" among us and what art are they promoting or not promoting for Marxist reasons?

Stalin and his lackeys established a vague code in the Soviet Union that opposed "formalism" whatever that means, but I think that Stalin at some point or another would come after any composer no matter how innocuous they were, just because he was Stalin and he had to demonstrate who was boss sooner or later. You can point to Shostakovich's Lady MacBeth of Mtsensk if you like, but that opera was also thoroughly disliked by critics in the capitalist USA because of it's explicit content, and I'd suspect that right-wingers I know of today would be just as offended by it as Stalin said he was if they had to sit down and watch it.

So I guess I'm just looking for some examples to help define the terms.
 

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Many ask that question, and the term is probably bad because of that. The term is not self explanatory, but I have no better one atm.

I understand cultural marxism as leveling of cultural values. (Like marxism overall is a leveling of economic differences.) More modern marxists concentrate their efforts on culture, since the straight forward marxism in the east did not work that well. Culture is the always the output of humans, humans which marxists want to equate. So the cultural marxists say all culture is equal in order to make it easier to equate all humans afterwards. So the Beethoven's 9th symphony has the same value as Cage's 4'33''. That is obviously nonsense from an artistic point of view. Its cultural marxism.
But I'm looking for examples. WHO is out there saying that ALL cultural values are equal? Did someone actually SAY that Beethoven is equal to Cage? And even they did say that Beethoven is equal to Cage, and even if most of us agree that such a statement would be "nonsense", I still don't see how it makes them a Marxist, since Marxist ideology concerns economics and not art? So you've stated that these "Cultural Marxists", whoever they may be, would like to level art and culture in a similar fashion that Marx and Engels wanted to redistribute wealth, but I guess what I'm looking for is the smoking gun or the missing link. WHO are the "Cultural Marxists"? HOW specifically have they drawn a connection between art and Marxism? And HOW are they moving this "Cultural Marxist" agenda? And WHY is it important?
 

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Adorno is maybe the historically most important figure of cultural marxism. But it is widespread. I heard that some exhibition rooms are allocated by ethnic quotas today for example. Or there is a thread in this forum called "Did you know that "Classical Music is Inherently Racist?""

This way of thinking has its roots in marxism, but it don't has to be closely connected in every case. "Cultural marxism" is maybe not the best scientific term, but it is a good battle term.

It is important for music because cultural marxism promotes modern art and hampers classical art.
How "widespread" can"Cultural Marxism" be if the only name you can dig up is Theodor Adorno, a composer/philosopher that almost no one has ever heard of, whose been dead for more than 50 years? Then you say that you "hear" that some exhibition rooms are allocated by ethnic quotas. I'm asking for specifics not hearsay. And even if museums are making sure that a certain percentage of their display represents minority groups what does that have to do with Marxism, again an economic philosophy; and why wouldn't American art museums want the art of oppressed minority groups represented in their museums in the first place, and why should anyone be upset by it?

The one thing you've said that makes perfect sense so far is when you say that "'Cultural marxism' is maybe not the best scientific term, but it is a good battle term."

So in other words the term is a fabrication; but remains a good way to label someone or something as "Marxist" ("communist") just because you oppose it for other reasons, and what those other reasons REALLY are is what I want to know. If it's not Marxism, then what is it?
 

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I am more familiar with the situation in Germany than in America, but the results everywhere in the West are similar. I have found an interesting article about cultural marxism that does not necessarily represent my opinion but the conclusion is: Cultural marxism exists: https://www.jamesgmartin.center/2019/01/cultural-marxism-is-real/...the purpose of museums is art and they should not be abused for political purposes...You can propose a better term. For now I keep using "cultural marxist"...Every term is fabrication...[Cultural Marxism] is destructive. For music and politics. But the topic of this forum is music. Tell me: Why is the most popular classical music centuries old and so different from the most recent classical music?
OK, so let's start with the "Frankfurt School" that existed at the time of the Weimar Republic in Germany between the wars (1918-1933). What did they do in Germany that was so bad? How did Germany suffer because of them? Hitler didn't like them, and put a stop to them and since almost all of them were Jews they all ended up having to eventually leave Germany. But what did these stodgy old professors DO that was THAT bad, so bad according to you and your "James Martin Institute" that to this day, long since they're all dead and buried, their legacy continues to soil modern art and music?

Next item: You say that the art museums don't exist for political purposes, and the example you used earlier to characterize "Cultural Marxism" in art was that some museums you "hear" are employing quotas in order to make sure that certain ethnic groups get a set percentage of representation at museums. And I don't see the problem there, why it should make me fearful, or worried about the state of art, or creeping socialism. If you could provide another example, one where you might be more specific, that may be helpful.

You want me to give you a better term for "Cultural Marxism"? How about using whatever it REALLY is that is getting you upset? If it's political correctness, diversity, or multiculturalism, then say so; but it's cheap and essentially a lie to use a term that is loaded and charged with all sorts of negative connotations that don't apply. You say "Marxism" and you automatically conjure images of dictators, gulags, mass executions, churches being destroyed, famine, and such; and then you apply it to the museum that wants to make room for an African-American or Latino-American art gallery? But then you make the term so vague, so fluid, so (if you will excuse the expression) abstract, that when pressed you can make it mean anything you want it to mean, claim that you're not REALLY lying, even though you got your message and image through loud and clear.

Why is old classical music so different from today's? Because styles change. Musical ideas become exhausted. It's human nature to invent, to innovate, and to create new things, to break through walls and discover new lands; as Captain Kirk used to say: To boldly go where no one has gone before! Isn't that what Beethoven did with Symphony #3 Eroica; what Wagner did with The Ring cycle; what Stravinsky did with Rite of Spring, and what Schoenberg did with his 12-tone works? A talented enough musician could write in the style of Mozart but it wouldn't be original, so what would be the point? And what does it have to do with "Cultural Marxism"?
 

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...Music can lose its more literal specific representational meanings if separated from singing, words, action, and drama, but even in its "abstract" sound-form can convey meaning, although it is non-representational and non-specific as "musical sounds."
Any sound can do this. Any sound has the potential to evoke meaning; thunder can evoke fear and power, but that evocation and meaning is not in the "sound itself," whatever that means. Human response to sound must be considered as "resonances" of meaning, not as an object.
Here is where I become very interested in music as it relates to brain science. We all know that babies and dogs are naturally scared of loud noises, that little children like Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and spontaneously dance to it. People of all ages don't like being shouted at. I also wish my two little dogs could talk so I could ask them if they have any favorite composers, as they are fully exposed to the prolific variety in my music collection but don't seem to react any differently to Beethoven than than to Debussy. Even though Leonard Bernstein occasionally composed atonal passages himself, he generally avoided atonal or serial music. He lectured on Schoenberg but never recorded Schoenberg. He did, however, recorded Berg's Violin Concerto with Isaac Stern and a piece for violin and orchestra by Dallapiccola with a violinist whose name escapes my memory at the moment. But apart from a very small handful of obligatory gestures as if only to demonstrate that he was aware of atonal music and serialism, Bernstein claimed that tonality is innate, I assume biologically conducive to the human experience.
 

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We read that Glenn Gould disliked concertos on "political" grounds that it put the soloist (him) in "opposition" to the orchestra.
Gould also disliked concerts and compared it to blood sport, like watching NASCAR, boxing, or American football; where on some level you want the players to get hurt, like in the days of the gladiators. Except in a concert you're waiting for the performer "get hurt" by playing a wrong note; sort of like being able to brag that you were there when Pavarotti's voice cracked.
 

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But the whole concept of a symphony in the style of Beethoven is intrinsically anti-democratic, because when it gets performed, the musicians inevitably organise themselves into something which is inegalitarian -- conductor at the top directing the lackies in the orchestra. The way musicians come together to make their music is a metaphor for larger society. That's where music is political.
I think classical music is by it's very nature hierarchal. It's seat of power started in the church and then went to the royalty and nobility, and then to academia. Even in terms of performance, in classical music, it's often not about how creative the performers are but how faithful they are to the composer and the conductor; and we've all heard or read stories of how Toscanini or Szell ran a tight ship and ruled with an iron hand.

It's almost as if classical music is to jazz as Roman Catholicism is to Congregationalism. In a Catholic church everything comes from the top down, starting with the Pope in Rome. In a Congregational church the power comes from the church members and even if someone wants to move the mops from one closet to the other closet it has to be voted on by the Board of Trusties. This is why I think Protestantism took hold in America, because Americans love committees, love voting on things, love inventing constitutions, love debates, and love using the law as a means to making societal changes.

American Jazz is political and congregational, stemming from the Black Church in America, and used as an expression of freedom where the players are invited to improvise on their instruments.

Of all American composers, I think Charles Ives came closest to that political ideal while still expressing himself in the genre of classical forms. Ives (a Congregationalist himself) wanted his music to sound like a "New England town meeting" and Ives loved his music to be played by amateur musicians, and he didn't even care if they played the notes wrong. I imagine it was part of his ideal and the sound he was after.
 

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Isn't a Mozart string quartet supposed to be non hierarchical? I dunno, just something Goethe said I think.
I don't know, but I think that the closest thing in Europe and prior to the 20th century that we have that is not hierarchal is Modest Mussorgsky because followed an ideal in thought, pedagogy, as well as in composition, that was anti-musical establishment. As part of the circle of Mili Balakirev, he followed a style of learning and music that was collaborative and grassroots. For years I only knew Boris Godunov and Night On Bald Mountain in the smoothed-out Rimsky-Korsakov edition and was astounded after many decades to hear the original (and wild!) Mussorgsky arrangements. So was Mussorgsky just too lazy and too drunk to take a some lessons and polish up his technique the way Rimsky did, or was his rough-shot style a political act?
 

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re: Beethoven:

Beethoven is my favorite composer. I love the man from Bonn as his music has brought me great joy and continues to renew my belief that beauty exists in this cruel and unjust world. But Beethoven's politics and his world view (if symphonies 3 and 9 are fair examples) were naive and superficial.
 

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Didn't Beethoven dedicate his 3rd Symphony "Eroica" to Napoleon because Beethoven, at the time, believed in the ideals of the French Revolution? But then later he ended up dedicating it some monarch?
 

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I don't know how political art, music or poetry can be, shocking or not. Political changes are made by people who are willing to go to jail for what they believe in, and are prepared to die. The United States didn't win the American Revolution by sending someone off to the battle field playing the violin or marching off with paint brushes and a canvas in hand. Harriet Tubman, Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Nelson Mandela were willing to go to jail or die for their causes.

I don't know what "conservative" and "liberal" mean anymore at least in the ethical sense. Aren't most politicians more-or-less opportunists? They don't respond to what artists, musicians, or poets do; as much as they respond to political pressure that comes from those who will fund or de-fund their next campaign.
 
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