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tv   American Artifacts  CSPAN  December 4, 2016 10:31pm-10:46pm EST

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the japanese attack on pearl harbor throughout this weekend and next. saturday, december 10, we will be live to take your calls and tweets for the author of "pacific crucible." saturday hereext on american history tv. >> we are on stage at the frank lloyd wright theater of asu in tempe, arizona. american history tv visits the art museum to learn more about their collection of political art. >> the print collection is one of the largest at the art museum. we have 7000 works on paper, and they are cared for and stored and made available for close study and viewing here in the print study room. one of the areas of concentration within the print collection is artists dealing with social and political content. a lot of these artists
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throughout history have recognized the art form's ability to bring about social change. they are just like us, living in their own time frame, and they want to reflect upon what is going on around them, and potentially influence society with their work. and the amazing thing about prints that allows them to be really powerful social tools, really, is they are relatively inexpensive to produce. they are multiples. they are less expensive to acquire. and so they really penetrate all aspects of society. and they are excellent platform with which to convey information, both image and text. and so lot of artists have used print specifically for this reason. so we selected today from the collection a range of prints from the 18th century through to contemporary of artists dealing with social and political
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content. and what is really amazing is that while a lot of the specifics change -- so, the settings, the costumes, the specific details of the current event -- the broader issues remain the same. these artists are dealing with things like political corruption, like the difference between rich and the poor, war and the impact of war. throughout these prints, throughout history, you see the artists dealing with the same issues. the first prints i pulled were prints by an english artist who lived in london named william hogarth. hogarth set up his own engraving studio in 1720. the prints i will show you today are from the 1740's and 1750's. hogarth was best known as a satirist, and he produced these large editions of engravings in series, almost like a graphic
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novel, and often in very witty and biting look at what is going on around him and society around him. for instance, this is "marriage a-la-mode," and this is taking a look at the habits of the very wealthy. it is the story of a couple who are married off by their parents for gain. here you have on the left lord squander, who is showing his family tree, and is marrying off his son, who is over here on the right in very fashionable dress but already see dissipation because he has a black spot on his neck, which means he has syphilis. he is back from his tour of the continent. and the son's name is lord squanderfield. and then this is a rich merchant who is interested in marrying off his daughter to gain entry into the aristocracy. in the background you see a new
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mansion that lord squander is building. and so he needs to gain resources to sell off his son for that reason. and here he has a crutch, and his foot is bound because he has gout from his extreme living, eating, and drinking. here you have the daughter looking very depressed about this situation, but being talked into the marriage by a lawyer, who is called silvertongue. and here in the right -- you always have to look for the details in hogarth's prints -- are a pair of dogs chained together just like the couple is going to be chained together in life. so this series runs through several pieces and ends with the son dying in a duel and the daughter committing suicide. in complete dissipation, having spent all their money. now we jump to the late 19th century, early 20th century, and
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look at two german artists who both concentrated on the impact of war, world war i and world war ii, in germany. but also the plight of the poor, and the impact of war on women and children and others involved. so this is kathe kollwitz, a german expressionist artist who became active in the late 19th century. as i was talking about earlier, she is an artist who very consciously chose printmaking as her medium in order to get the work out there, in order to talk about her concerns with society. so her husband was actually a doctor in berlin, and she came into contact with a lot of his working-class patients, and a lot of her work is dealing with the plight of the poor, and particularly mothers and children.
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this is a really powerful piece called "bread," and she has actually written it here at the bottom. a mother with two hungry children that she is trying to pacify. "revolution," in where she shows the downtrodden, the poor, trying to break out of their restrictions. and this piece here is a piece by an artist named george grosz. and grosz was actually active between the wars, between world war i and world war ii. and he actually fought briefly in world war i. and a lot of his work from between the wars is looking at the complete breakdown in german society between the wars, which brought about nazism. a lot of his work shows the veterans who have become beggars, who are starving, who
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were injured in the war and now have no recourse, no profession. again, showing the impact of the war. interestingly, kathe kollwitz also had personal impact of the war. she had a son die in world war i and a grandson die in world war ii. kathe kollwitz's work was basically banned by the nazis in world war ii and she lost her position at her german university. now we are going to move to a selection of works by contemporary artists who are using the print medium in order to talk about social and political issues. these are all works by an artist named sue koe and here you see the ability of our visitors to take a close look at our prints. none of these are behind glass. they can really see the quality of the paper, the quality of the print itself, the contrast between light and dark and the use of the grays in between to
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create these powerful images using a variety of print techniques. this is a very powerful piece about the anita hill hearings, when she made very specific claims of sexual harassment against clarence thomas. and here you can see her interpretation of those hearings where she felt anita hill was demonized, and she is almost like a witch with her hands tied, flames coming up from below. this sort of halloweeny witch with the cat and broomstick up above. and then "the new york post" tabloid here on the left with "i'd like to thank amerikkka," with kkk in america. so a very clear interpretation on what happened during those hearings, and very specific senators who were in those hearings as well.
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this ceramics collection is our second largest collection. we have some powerful works in particular from the 1930's by an american artist we would like to share with you today. >> we are going to take a look at one of the hidden gems of the ceramics research center's collection, and that is three sculptures by russell barnett aitken, a well-known socialite, philanthropist, artist, and oddly, big game hunter who lived in new york city and hung out with a lot of the other wealthy types in new york city. these pieces were created in 1938, just before the united states entered world war ii. what we're looking at are the three pieces by russell barnett aitken. you can see on the left we start with a sculpture of franklin delano roosevelt.
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he is riding on a democratic donkey. he is holding up a microphone. and tucked under his right arm is a battleship, a warship. and just to his right we have a sculpture. they are about 10 or 11 inches tall, of benito mussolini. you can see the roman column that sort of his gut is resting on. you can see an ethiopian figure thumbing their nose at mussolini as they look up. you have to remember, this is pre-world war ii, so russell barnett aitken is looking at these figures through the lens of the united states, which has not yet gone to war against these countries. finally, we see an image of adolf hitler. "mein kampf" is tucked into his left hand. his right hand is giving a sieg heil. there is a bare-breasted
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valkyrie mermaid with a little baby tucked into her arm. maybe russell barnett aitken is talking about eugenics and hitler wanting the aryans to propagate. and on the other side there is a sign that says "the new order," with an arrow pointing forward. i think that we can view these sculptures through a couple of different lenses. one of them is that pre-world war ii and definitely during world war ii there is a populist lens we could look at these through. i think people in the united states were engaged with art in a direct way and used to seeing art that made statements. through the works progress administration, through artists like diego rivera, people in the united states were used to seeing murals that made direct statements. i think we can definitely relate
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these sculptures with some of the political winds at the time. but i think the other lens you can look at this through is through the lens of socialites and wealthy people in new york city. in 1938, before the united states entered world war ii, you were already seeing the nazis driving out the jews, the collectors, the wealthy -- some of the wealthy jewish residents in germany. but also many artists, many creatives were migrating. this is the milieu in new york city that russell barnett aitken would have been commenting upon at the time. i think he was never somebody who hid his own beliefs and opinions. and that is what you see in all of these little details
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percolating up in these sculptures. >> this weekend we are featuring the history of tempe, arizona with our cox communications cable partners. learn more about tempe and other stops at citiestoward. you are walking -- watching american history tv on c-span 3. >> monday night on the communicators. >> is a great measure how fast things change that the law is just figure out those examples, cell phones and email. maybe figuring that out just about the time those are not envy as important in our daily lives. there is this built-in delay the law suffers from that is hard to keep up with the latest tech. on how prosecutors,
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lawyers and judges lack understanding of technology and his work to help resolve that problem. he is interviewed by dustin volt, reporter at reuters. >> scientists love the law, love policy. they are probably -- they think they are probably better at it than they are. it's something to appeal to people. help the government out. >> what's the communicators on c-span 2. on december 7, 1941, japanese planes attacked the u.s. fleet at pearl harbor, hawaii. 2400 americans were killed and almost 1200 wounded. the next day, president franklin roosevelt appeared before a joint session of congress request a declaration of war against japan. this year marks the 75th anniversary of the pearl harbor


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