From skillful caricaturists to passionate crusaders for political causes, Israeli artists have throughout history in one form or another created a political work of art. Whether biblical stories of Jewish bravery and martyrdom, the birth of Zionism or more modern examples of courage, political art has always played a part in the soul of Israeli creations of art. At the same time, even in modern times of today artists are often scared to link their creations to history and politics.
In the following, this article examines four aspects analyzing the issue of art & politics.
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The first aspect addressing the subject of artists and politics examines the extent of public involvement by Israeli artists in taking a political standpoint expressed through their art paintings.
From a democratic point of view which seeks to protect freedom of expression, it is important that art work tackle political issues and influence public debate
However, the problem in Israel for artists who want to express an anti-establishment view is the concern over the fact that the establishment represents their main source of support and financing. While those who want to back up the establishment are not doing so out of fear of being accused by their artist friends that their creative work is influenced by economic reasons. As such it can be concluded that in our time the majority of Israeli artists are “fearful” when it comes to touching upon political issues.
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In the second aspect addressing politicians and art, I examine the involvement and understanding of political leaders in the creations of art. There is no doubt, that an artistic point of perspective opens horizons contributing to the development of a more open-minded way of thinking.
For this reason, Israeli leaders – whose personalities are often channeled through the security and/or party platform – should show interest in the arts as a tool for personal development which can widen their world view.
From a public point of view, a politician, who has knowledge and proven interest in cultural issues, will be considered as having preferable characteristics of experience and knowledge.
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Addressing the third aspect of politics in art, the following questions I believe are at the heart of the issue: To what extent does the political and public activity of the artist influence the artistic evaluation of his creations in the present and the future? If the official establishment wants the prestige of a particular artist can it increase or decrease the value of his art?
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In the fourth aspect of art in politics I raise the question if to a certain extent there is an artist at work in the political making? Can we make the assertion that certain people have a political-artistic talent which makes it easier for them to succeed in the political arena?
In this context, I very much believe, that in order to be a player in the political arena winning public opinion, a leader needs to be creative and have strong interpersonal skills combining artistic elements.