Political Art Activists in the Past and Present Time

Tuesday, 17 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Malfrid Irene HAGEN, Østfold University College, Norway
The well-recognized Norwegian artist Per Kleiva (1933-2017), was one of the front figures of the Norwegian art activist group “Gras” in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These artists, who mainly worked within graphic art, were engaged in a variety of political problems both in Norway and around the world, for example the Vietnam War and the military coup in Chile, in 1973, and expressed their protests through their art expressions. The printing techniques of Pop art, in particular serigraphy, inspired the members of the group. The most iconic serigraphic print of Per Kleiva; “American Butterflies” (1971), show American war helicopters over Vietnam, applied with butterfly wings. In this paper, I discuss these Norwegian art activists in the perspective of a broader tradition of artists as political activists, as well as the political conditions and movements of the current periods. Finally I look at: how do art activism appear in contemporary art (after 2000), and what are the main issues of today`s art activists compared with those of the 1900s?