Avoiding the State of the “Uniom”?

If you’re like me and have no interest in watching this evening’s State of the Union address (or the “State of the Uniom,” if you will), might I suggest you look at and read up on these ten works of art that are each in their own way appropriate for today’s political climate?

My suggestions:

Eugene Delacroix, Liberty Leading the People, 1830
  1. Liberty Leading the People by Eugene Delacroix (1830)
    I’ll start with this hopeful image. Can we think of the FBI as Lady Liberty, leading her people to victory and justice? I love that Delacroix said of this work, “Although I may not have fought for my country, at least I shall have painted for her.”

  2. Double America by Glenn Ligon (2012)
    The concept of America: Not a simple. Ligon’s work is great.

    Francisco Goya, The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters, from Los Caprichos, 1799
  3. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters by Francisco Goya (1799)
    It does. Wake up, Reason!

    Statue of Liberty, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel, 1886
  4. The Statue of Liberty by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi and Gustave Eiffel (1886)
    “Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
    The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
    Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
    I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” —— Enough said.

  5. The Problem We All Live With by Norman Rockwell (1964)
    The image of Ruby Bridges walking to school speaks for itself. This was painted fifty-four years ago, and yet it feels frighteningly relevant to today’s world.

  6. The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago
    This “oldie but goodie” work of feminist art is just as powerful today as it was when it was finished in 1979.

  7. Study of Perspective Tiananmen Square by Ai Weiwei (1995)
    Can we all take a cue from Ai Weiwei? Give the finger where the finger is due?

    Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Good Government, 1338
    Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Bad Government, 1338

    Lorenzetti's Tyrant
    Ambrogio Lorenzetti, detail from Bad Government, 1338
  8. Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti (1339)
    Maybe things could be fixed by looking to fourteenth-century civic art? In any case, it’s really fun to look at the devil-horned tyrant in the “Bad Government” fresco. You could have a lot of fun manipulating that image with Photoshop.

  9. Banksy’s flower-throwing protestor
    This one’s good. Don’t you think?

    Last Judgement Tympanum from Cathedral of St. Lazare, Autun, France, 1130s

    Detail from Last Judgement Tympanum from Cathedral of St. Lazare, Autun, France, 1130s
  10. The Last Judgment by Gislebertus
    Okay, so this isn’t really political. But it’s nice to think that there’s some force out there that will ultimately take truly awful behavior into account. Even if our earthly laws fall short. Don’t you love the detail of the angel helping weigh down the soul to help it?

And that’s it. This should divert your attention for a good chunk of tonight’s address. Happy looking!


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