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Art and Politics in Contemporary Times of the 21st Century

How do art and politics strengthen in the 21st century?

Revolutions can be seen in the long history of art. Politics surrounding bloodshed, dictatorships, and even religion are apparent in paintings and sculptures of the past. The Spanish War, the propaganda of Napolean, and even the scandals of the Pope are all evident with brushes and paint. But, artistic techniques evolve and so will the way artists depict these wars, revolutions, and the controversy around art and politics.

Nowadays art can mean driving a tank down the street, looking in a mirror, sending lanterns soaring high, or even marching on Capital his with a pussy hat. Art has taken on a new form and with that comes new subjects and meanings. Art historians love to put things in boxes. People love to categorize styles, movements, and naturally timeframes. So how is the 21st century different from others? It’s hard to say, but most people would explain that they are moved by it emotionally and changed by it politically. Art has been political for centuries of course but is growing more in the 21st. Contemporary art of the 21st century can be defined by strong art and politics. Art in the 21st century is almost always powerfully relevant, moving and emotional, and political in its subject.

Art and Politics

The 21st century is a bloody sword and Contemporary art is the reflection of politics in that sword. The world is still at risk of annihilating itself. Governments are at the very least capable of genocide. But in the 21st century art and politics have reflected the retaliation of victims across the planet. The 21st century has brought protests against the 1%, the war on terror, and other global resistance to the forefront of news and social media. And the unfair treatments of Blacks, indigenous peoples, and women are being expressed visually now more than ever. Art of the 21st century is unique because of its adjacent similarly unique political climate. While governments wage war against their own people, art expresses the anger of both casualties and oppressed survivors. World politics are worsening while art documents it. The relationship between the carnage of politics is becoming strongly bonded with Contemporary art in the 21st century more and more every day.

The power of 21st century art and politics can move someone to feel and even think differently. Strong works of art are always the tearjerkers. Ask someone what the best work of art they’ve experienced was and they’ll almost always describe something that brought them to tears. Art that elicits a sobbing reaction is important to 21st century political art. Artists, good and evil, are using a toolkit of emotions. Tears are proof that art and politics in the 21st century change people’s feelings about whatever the subject may be. Artist toolkits can contain anger, sadness, excitement, happiness, and even patriotism. They use these tools to depict the brutalities of the world or pass them off as utopia. Like Jedi’s, artists can use these emotions as mind tricks. The polls are the easiest example of artworks changing the way people think. The results of these mind tricks can be seen when people decide after watching the news and reading campaign posters who to vote for. An already emotionally turbulent society can be swayed easily in either direction via artworks of the 21st century. Art of the 21st century is increasingly feeding off of people facing discrimination, violence, and even death to sway their opinions for better or worse.

The subject of artworks in the 21st century art not just emotional, they are political. Contemporary art is an encyclopedia of modern day politics. Many Contemporary artists like David Černý, David Hammons, Hank Willis Thomas, Nick Cave, and Ai Weiwei are incorporating modern politics into their art and politics. Anything from pink military tanks to culturally insensitive build boards become the cataloged index of politics around the world. Though artists works are almost always emotional, the artwork of the 21st century is also becoming more and more political.

Art and Politics

Raise Up, 2013.
Hank Willis Thomas.
10″ x 112″ Bronze


Everyone has experienced a work of art and felt emotionally moved by it. But what’s more incredible is that people can be inspired to change their way of thinking. This phenomenon has happened for years in art and politics, but it seems to grow especially in the Contemporary art of the time. It can be seen in the Contemporary art of the 21st century through emotion and subject.

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