What Is Social Commentary Art?

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Social commentary art is any artwork that makes a statement about the current society, such as the works of Leon Golub and Nancy Spero. Discover the intense and moving nature of social commentary artwork with information from an art historian, critic and curator in this free video on art.

Part of the Video Series: Modern Art History
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm professor Betty Brown here. The topic is Social Commentary Art. Social Commentary Art is precisely what the topic tells you. Art that comments on our society. Let me give you two examples and these two are artists happen to be a married couple. They are Leon Golub and Nancy Spero. Leon Golub is an expressionist painter who turned his very talented eye to torture and police abuse. He created immense paintings, often with brilliant blood red backgrounds, of images like somebody in a police uniform with his boot on the neck of somebody who'd clearly been beaten. The sheer intensity of the color and the powerful scale of these paintings compel us to think about the social problems. That we would much rather ignore. Nancy Spero addresses issues of gender and womens' roles and torture as well. But rather than doing large canvases, oil on canvas paintings, like her husband. Nancy Spero does insulations. Where she creates paintings all along the bottom of a wall. Or all around a room. And she uses print making and stenciling and makes her social commentary, actually part of the room. That her art work is occupying.

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