americana as cultural habitat

Much in the vein of Thomas Rowlandson, James Gillray and even the art of Jack Levine, its modern protest satire that helped define the left of center cultural aesthetic. The left cultural industry machine that by nature is part of our daily cultural dialog; ultimately entertaining, and not overly threatening since satire by nature tends to accept the system and reinforces its underpinnings, albeit with a reformist kick.

---God is dog backwards. (But only in English.) Edward Sorel, The Ten Commandments, illustration for The Masters Series: Edward Sorel exhibition poster, 2011. Check out his show of his hilarious satirical drawings at SVA gallery in Chelsea. ---Read More:

…Born on March 26, 1929, in the Bronx, Sorel cofounded the internationally renowned Push Pin Studios in 1953 with fellow Cooper Union classmates Seymour Chwast and Milton Glaser but soon left to establish his lifelong freelance career….( bio)…. I can see that the Obama 2012 campaign has very astutely targeted this liberal/white/ traditional segment , the Kennedy democrat profile, with the hiring of Josh Higgins as campaign graphic maven and the production of traditional campaign swag that shares a diluted version of “the shock of the new”. David Axelrod et al. knows what the campaign donors and their children are reading- Vanity Fair, Atlantic, New Yorker, Esquire- in much the same way Frank Zappa approached Jack Kirby at Marvel Comics to help promote his early albums.

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The artwork, the artistry, the craft of Sorel is really outstanding. Its an entire genre of “Americana” ; its own unique and patriotic vision of America and representative of the immigrant story, the New World . I have to question though, whether its all part of the entertainment complex, the media entertainment machine of soft-core publicity; reiterations and corrupted versions of an original like Otto Dix; the same shiny sheen that gave us films like Cabaret dismally removed and irrelevant compared to the reality of Berlin Weimar. Even in incredibly slick and professional art like Sorel’s there is some of the same processes of disavowal at work that are found in ostensibly more sentimental artists like Rockwell.

So, in the end, there is a kind of neutralizing, a tendency to kitsch the critical content by having it being absorbed into our “Society of the Spectacle” our present cultural habitat characterized by the bull and baloney that avoids society’s dirty underside: armed conflict, emotional terror, and a trauma intrinsic in the absurdities and tragic flaws that are part of the DNA of ideologies.


I have always loved drawings that reveal that process. You can see it in Kley and Rowlandson in their finished work and of course in Daumier’s ,but you will find it in just about everyone’s preliminary drawings. The difference is that too often, those beautiful mistakes are sandblasted away in the final product….Read More:

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