Monday, October 30, 2017

The Art of Persuasion: Euphoric Faces.

 Recently with a group of parents and students I have been painting scenery for the school musical 'Bye Bye Birdie' set in 1950s America. To create the 'outside' scenes I am creating large advertising hoardings with typical advertisements from the period that will form one side of two rotating 'corners of houses' and help to create a social, cultural and historical atmosphere in keeping with post war America. 

The strange ecstatic expressions of euphoria brought about by the objects of desire in a mass consumer capitalist culture (in this case Timex watch and a Coke bottle) are curiously similar to those of the Chinese cultural revolution like this one below from 1971. Advertising and propaganda are essentially the same thing and the art and psychology of persuasion differs little from one ideological system to another. They all promise ultimate satisfaction or liberation, manifested in a material form here and now, evidenced by the smiling youthful, beautiful, happy faces of wishes fulfilled  Gerrit van Honthorst's St. Francis, with his ecstatic expression of acceptance as he receives the stigmata, suggests that sacrifice and suffering lead to a heavenly reward in a future paradise which is elusive if not impossible in this life. 
Designer: Revolutionary Committee of Tianjin Industrial Exhibition Hall (天津市工业展览馆革命委员会)
1971, February
Turn philosophy into a sharp weapon in the hands of the masses

Gerrit van Honthorst, Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata, 17th century

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