Watch the documentary about Jacques Louis David from The Power of Art series. The link is provided here in the “Films” folder or in the “Weekly Folders” folder.
As you watch the film, think about the ideas and purposes of art as they are described by Simon Schama. What are some of the concepts of art that emerge from the narrative? What is the relationship between art and politics? art and propaganda? Take notes and save these because we will return to these ideas throughout the course.
Write a short response to the ideas in the film by focusing on the following statements:
When Schama discusses David’s The Death of Marat, he says something to the effect: “It never occurred to David that he was betraying art…he would have thought that he was fulfilling its highest purpose: moral education.” David’s art, according to Schama, is art “designed to make virtuous citizens,” but “like a lot of art designed to improve humanity, it has the opposite effect…because it is a lie.”
What does Schama mean by the above provocative statements and do you agree? Why or why not?
(You might consider some of the following questions as you formulate your response:
How and why was David “betraying art”? Is moral education the highest purpose of art? Does good art always tell the truth?
Is it true that art with a moral and political purpose does not manage to improve humanity, but rather degrades humanity? Was David a propagandist? Does that mean he was not an “artist”?)
Do not use outside sources.
At least one page (250-300 words), no more than 3 (750-900 words)
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