The relationship of art to politics has always been an uneasy one, and never more so than in the 20th century. Governments have sought to control, censor, or bend art to their own purposes; artists have resisted and subverted such efforts. But what happens when artists work on behalf of a political program? When does art become propaganda? Is art tainted, diminished, or elevated by its political content?
Toby Clark argues that propaganda art appears in many guises, and that the desire to persuade is not always at odds with aesthetic aims. He examines these many forms: the state propaganda of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Stalin's Soviet Union; democratic governments' representation of enemies in wartime; and anti-government protest art around the world, uncovering the complex rhetoric, high beauty, and ambiguous role of art that dwells in the political realm.