Otto Dix has been said to be primarily a critic of capitalism, and secondly an artist who expressed this view through painting. Although its questionable, and even debatable whether the classic capitalism of the industrial era still exists; its underlying market forces, this pretense of large, internationally traded, and liquid markets as the tracks on which goods and services, even of the virtual order, ride the rails is the preeminent commercial force that has displaced traditional conceptions of the more limited capital/production model. He was not alone in singing the hobo’s lullaby. Nonetheless, Dix is as pertinent today as ever, given his ability to overturn the rock of materialism to see the sociological and psychological worms, leeches and bugs that feed off and interact with the toxicity it creates.
Donald Kuspit: Otto Dix was first and foremost a critic of capitalism — a fact obscured by the bullshitizing of his art by Hollywood, that is, the dumbing of it down into entertainment in such films as Cabaret, more pointedly, the neutralizing and kitschifying of its critical content by its assimilation into the society of the spectacle we culturally inhabit. It is the trivializing fate that Hollywood reserves especially for artists who are critical of everything it stands for: the military-industrial complex it serves. The military-industrial-entertainment complex controls consciousness, and it is determined to control — by treating as comic farce, ridiculing as absurd mischief — any consciousness that threatens it by reminding it of its tragic flaws and its own absurdity. …Any art that contradicts it by showing its contradictions — the unresolvable tensions that make it erratically tic(k) — must be contradicted: debunked as a distortion — erratic in itself — and with a worse, and more incurable, tic(k) than society’s. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp a
Guy Debord: In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation. The images detached from every aspect of life merge into a common stream in which the unity of that life can no longer be recovered. Fragmented views of reality regroup themselves into a new unity as a separate pseudoworld that can only be looked at. The specialization of images of the world evolves into a world of autonomized images where even the deceivers are deceived. The spectacle is a concrete inversion of life, an autonomous movement of the nonliving. … Read More: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/1.htm a
Dix, Beckmann and others were artists in the nascent stages of the science of Communications, which was beginning to be exploited in marketing, public relations and politics, encouraged by such luminaries as H.G. Wells. Mass communication is a vital tool that can enhance the functioning of democratic societies, but is equally the weapon of dictators and totalitarianism,depending on the application; A grim and pessimistic outlook is not a vague hypothesis or mad rantings of the paranoid and deluded. Walter Lippmann, in his “Public Opinion” (1922) compared the masses to a “great beast” and a “bewildered herd” that needed to be guided by a governing class. He described the ruling elite as “a specialized class whose interests reach beyond the locality.” Beho, Woe is to be the lot of the unwashed:
This class is composed of experts, specialists and bureaucrats. According to Lippmann, the experts, who often are referred to as “elites,” are to be a machinery of knowledge that circumvents the primary defect of democracy, the impossible ideal of the “omnicompetent citizen.” The trampling and roaring “bewildered herd” has its function: to be “the interested spectators of action,” i.e. not participants. Participation is the duty of “the responsible man”, which is not the regular citizen. Read More: http://vigilantcitizen.com/?p=3571
Mass media and propaganda are therefore tools that must be used by the elite to rule the public without physical coercion.A velvet glove and iron truncheon. Lippmann may have been the originator of the concept, the “manufacture of consent”, which captures the idea of a manipulation of public opinion to accept the elite’s agenda.An accomplishment of fascism or more frequently, a normative democracy based on the laws of property with as many “grandfather” clauses as possible tossed in. It was Lippmann’s opinion that the general public is not qualified to reason and to decide on important issues. It is therefore important for the elite to decide “for its own good” and then sell those decisions to the masses through elaborate social engineering, and a control over the dissemination of history.
Guy Debord: The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation. The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images. Understood in its totality, the spectacle is both the result and the project of the dominant mode of production. It is not a mere decoration added to the real world. It is the very heart of this real society’s unreality. In all of its particular manifestations — news, propaganda, advertising, entertainment — the spectacle represents the dominant model of life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choices that have already been made in the sphere of production and in the consumption implied by that production. In both form and content the spectacle serves as a total justification of the conditions and goals of the existing system. The spectacle also represents the constant presence of this justification since it monopolizes the majority of the time spent outside the production process. Read More: http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/1.htm
As Mark Vallen has pointed out, Postmodern artists,” pop art” or post abstract expressionism, from 1960s to the early 1970s tried to remove art from the marketplace by creating “conceptual” works,-performance, video, installation, – instead of merchandise for market consumption. In a sense some succeeded in defying the concept of precious-object-in-a-gilded-frame that guides the art market; but inadvertently, in some cases, created a new one, with the likes of Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, where again commercial intersts show a knack for co-opting the radical, emasculating it, and creating a new market structure that promotes their designated “radicals”.
Vallen: The art movement that previously strove for the “dematerialization of the art object,” as pro-conceptualist art critic and activist Lucy Lippard put it in 1973, has today placed itself in unwavering service to the elite art establishment it once sought to circumvent. Capitalism co-opted and absorbed conceptual art, which has become more of a commodity fetish than any of its other art world predecessors; it is synonymous with astronomical prices, billionaire art collectors, and shamelessly venal celebrity art stars – all good enough reasons to disparage it in my view.then suggesting that liberal elites, moral dissipation, and the loss of religion are the reasons behind such works being produced. What I find interesting is that Scruton does not explicitly state such opinion in his film, he alludes to it… Read More: http://art-for-a-change.com/blog/2010/01/why-beauty-matters.html
“That the manufacture of consent is capable of great refinements no one, I think, denies. The process by which public opinions arise is certainly no less intricate than it has appeared in these pages, and the opportunities for manipulation open to anyone who understands the process are plain enough. . . . as a result of psychological research, coupled with the modern means of communication, the practice of democracy has turned a corner. A revolution is taking place, infinitely more significant than any shifting of economic power. . . . Under the impact of propaganda, not necessarily in the sinister meaning of the word alone, the old constants of our thinking have become variables. It is no longer possible, for example, to believe in the original dogma of democracy; that the knowledge needed for the management of human affairs comes up spontaneously from the human heart. Where we act on that theory we expose ourselves to self-deception, and to forms of persuasion that we cannot verify. It has been demonstrated that we cannot rely upon intuition, conscience, or the accidents of casual opinion if we are to deal with the world beyond our reach.”
–Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion