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Georges Braque, Baluster and Skull (recto), 1938.
Georges Braque, Baluster and Skull (recto), 1938.

Committed Culture: A Panel Discussion on Politics and Aesthetics

March 7, 2013
6p reception, Kemper Art Museum; 6:30p panel discussion, Steinberg Auditorium

A complement to the Kemper Art Museum’s exhibitions Georges Braque and the Cubist Still Life, 1928–1945 and Face and Figure in European Art, 1928–1945, this panel explores the relationship between autonomous artistic production and the demands of politics on art during the turbulent period leading up to and throughout World War II. In the aftermath of World War II, French philosopher Jean‐Paul Sartre argued that literature, and by extension all forms of culture, had a moral duty to be socially engaged. Sartre was writing at a time when forms of culture—art, prose, and poetry, among others—were held accountable for individual and communal political action and even for life and death. Sartre’s call for literature engagé had its roots in the development of culture before and during the war, as authors and artists were often forced to choose between political action and aesthetic production. Scholars from Washington University and Webster University will explore in short presentations and a roundtable discussion how these ideas are addressed by a variety of art forms, including art, literature, film, and theater. Panelists include:

•    Colin Burnett, assistant professor of film & media studies, Washington University
•    Karen K. Butler, assistant curator
•    Lionel Cuillé, Jane and Bruce Robert Professor of French, Webster University
•    John Klein, associate professor of art history, Washington University
•    Stamos Metzidakis, professor of French and comparative literature, Washington University
•    Henry Schvey, professor of drama and comparative literature, Washington University

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Image credit

Georges Braque, Baluster and Skull (recto), 1938. [verso: Still Life with Fruit Dish,
c. 1932-33.] Oil on canvas, 17 3/4 x 21 5/8". Private collection. ©
2013 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.