Why don’t art history books include propaganda art?

I heard this question posed today by a university professor as if it was profound. I don’t find it so.

My niece makes glitter and glue paintings in her pre-school which have huge significance to her mother, my sister.

Her glitter paintings won’t appear in art books for the same reason propaganda art doesn’t. It’s crappy art. In the case of my niece, it has significance because of the mother-child relationship. In the case of propaganda art, it has significance because so many people are caught up in the mass delusion the art supports, whether it be Aryan purity, the creation of a workers’ paradise, making the world safe for democracy, hope and change, freeing the Cuban slaves, or whatever the slogan of the day.

Once the bubble bursts on the collectivist madness, we are left with crappy art plus a feeling of embarrassment on the part of whoever awoke from the mass delusion.

Why is it crappy?

Propaganda art doesn’t (and can’t) reflect the richness and complexity of the human experience. It looks at the world through a straw and sacrifices everything that makes us human in a vain, perverted attempt to constrain human activity and imagination for any one of the many false collectivist gods.

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