Art, argues the distinguished theoretician Boris Groys, is hardly a powerless commodity subject to the art market’s fiats of inclusion and exclusion. In Art Power . Art power / Boris Groys. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN (hardcover: alk. paper) 1. Art — Political aspects. 2. Art and state. Art power / Boris Groys. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN (hardcover: alk. paper). 1. Art—Political aspects. 2. Art and state. 3.

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In his essayGroys defends the role of art as political propaganda and calls for politically motivated art to be included in the discourse of modern art. Groys believes that art can be categorised either as a commodity on the art market or a tool of political gros.

While art historians and museum systems identify art with the market, they pay little attention to artworks that were created and distributed by political systems such as the Soviet government or other socialist states. He insist that art is more powerful poder produced outside the art market and in the context of politics.

Groys provocatively suggests that artists working for propaganda are truer to art than those who produce for the individual consumer.


This is because every ideology, Groys writes, political or religious, has a vision or an image behind it, whereas the art market does not — it merely circulates images. Due to this lack of vision, the market is difficult to challenge through art, even by those who position themselves against the commodification of art.

The market merely incorporates any criticising work and while some attributes may change, the concept remains unchallenged. For this reason Groys calls for more political art.

“Art Power – Introduction” by Boris Groys – A summary

He believes that any propaganda artwork is simultaneously an affirmation and a critique of an ideological system because it turns the vision of the future into something tangible and secular. Nonetheless, Groys believes western modern and contemporary art is more than a powerless commodity and has a distinct ideological function. However, Groys argues that the pluralism itself and the constant contradiction of other works is the common theme that unites all modern art. He says this trend is concerned with the balance of power, which is also a key concept of democracy.

By presenting a utopian power balance that politics fails to achieve, modern and contemporary art both affirms and critiques the democratic system, similarly to the functions of ideological art.

A particularly interesting idea is that art can serve as an affirmation and a criticism of a political system simultaneously.


Popular culture too, can be viewed as an ideological tool of capitalism, in that all members of society ar inevitably exposed to it. However, it can also be seen as a critical parody of our society, by condensing and exaggerating various aspects. Obvious examples of this are animated series like The Simpsons and South Park.

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