Using Art to Signal Economical and Political Power

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 16:15
Location: Hörsaal 14 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Malfrid Irene HAGEN, MI Hagen, Norway
In this paper I look at the shifting interest and use of art in Norwegian business life and the Labor Movement during the last century. Collecting art is a way to signal economical power among private and corporate art collectors. Today, many corporate collectors look at the art as a factor for increasing the creativity and innovation among employees. The charismatic figure of the artist also seem to have become a new role model, in respect of how artist works, and how many new industries organize their work today; where the employees, similar to the artist, are free to work whenever and wherever they like. However, also political parties and movements use art to signal their power to rule or influence the society. Norway was governed by the Labor Party from 1935 to 1965, (in exile during WWII), and for 28 years between 1965 and 2015. Due to its long-term governing many claim that the Labor Party, and the Labor Movement, had a crucial role in developing the Norwegian Welfare-state. In the 1930´s the Labor Party used artists to create powerful political posters inspired by the Soviet-posters from the 1920´s, to spread their ideology and recruit new members. After World War II artists decorated many new public buildings in the spirit of the Labor Movement, depicting men and women rebuilding the society after the war. Periodicals, for example those of the Labor Youth Organization, often used art with motifs from working life on the front page. In the 1950s the Labor Movement encouraged their members to attend an art club that offered affordable high quality art to laborers. Obviously, art was popular in the Labor Movement during the middle of the 1900s, in a time period where most Norwegian businesses seemingly had little interest of collecting art.