“Art and Propaganda”

Deutsches Historisches Museum

To historicize and culturally process authoritarian thinking can be seen as a form of mimesis—a therapeutic enterprise that provides the means to transfigure pain into amusement through representation. But the remedy may also be the poison—an ambiguity captured in the Greek word pharmakon, and a notion that should be kept firmly in mind when considering the imagery exhibited in “Art and Propaganda: Clash of Nations 1930–1945,” which surveys the phenomenon as it was manifested in the United States, Italy, Germany, and the Soviet Union. The exhibition was divided into four sections: the image of the leader, images of the individual and society, images of work and development, and images of war, with each section offering a comparative viewing of the theme’s handling by the selected nations.

American propaganda, as shown here, is largely limited to the rhetoric of a “we-presentation,” as in

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