August 28, 2008

What is the big deal?

Posted in miscellaneous other matters tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:07 pm by profart

The complete ignorance of art history and political imagery in this country is rearing its ugly head. The discussion of the neo-Classical stage set for Obama’s speech is both interesting and depressing. 

The man is running for the White House. The set references the White House. What is the big deal? 

This country began its artistic roots in the neoclassical- the style hugely popular in the 18th century and referencing the power imagery of Rome and the Classical world. It was used all over this nation’s capital, including the Capitol Building itself and the White House.

The neoclassical facade of the White House.

The neoclassical facade of the White House.


The neoclassical facade of the Capitol.

The neoclassical facade of the Capitol.




The stage set uses Doric-style columns, which communicate more strength an solidity than the elegant Ionics used on the White House itself. They are also simpler than the Corinthian columns of the Capitol (though Doric pilasters can be seen on the lower and upper levels). 

The format of the stage follows the Pergamon “altar”, which was probably actually a war memorial, and is Hellenistic. 

Western power imagery is usually laden with Classical imagery and visual vocabulary. I find it fabulous that Obama’s campaign is showing its cultural knowledge and understanding by using these Classical elements in their own power imagery. Politics is all about power. Of course it will reference Rome. People who laugh are only revealing their own ignorance. 

Perhaps they ought to take a class in art history.



  1. jonolan said,

    Whether you’re right or wrong it’s still a STUPID idea for Obama to use a Greco-Roman temple motif for his acceptance speech. You can laugh all you want at the masses of Americans who don’t understand the neo-Classical references of the set and of most of the public buildings in DC for that matter, but they’re the voters.

    Obama already has a messiah problem and a perceived arrogance; the last thing his campaign needs is this sort of imagery. It’ll will only help to galvanize the opposition against him. Yeah, I know that opposition wouldn’t have for him anyway, but it’s stupid to do things that will encourage them to turn off the TV and actually go out and vote against him.

    You would think he would have learned from Kerry. If Dems and Reps both campaign only to their bases, the Reps win.

  2. profart said,

    I’m not laughing.

    I think it is very depressing. Very sad. And very frightening.

    People should have an awareness of their own cultural history and heritage. This buzz proves that people have limited understanding of the use of visual vocabulary- visual vocabulary that is used to manipulate their opinion every single day.

    This is not a laughing matter. This is a serious lack of education.

  3. jonolan said,

    Do you think it would be better if they understood the symbolism Obama must have been trying to use? Do you really think the outcry would have been less if the masses figured out that Obama was accepting the nomination on the 45th Anniversary of MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech while standing in front of a close approximation of the Lincoln Memorial?

    Hmmm….Zeus, Apollo or Hades – or the 2nd coming of MLK? I’m betting the masses would be bothered about the same.

    All the funny sheeple 😉

  4. profart said,

    I think it would be better if people didn’t act all surprised. All politicians do this. McCain does it , too. Our president does it (all of them have). Congressmen do this. Someone just decided to make a hub-bub about it this time, because it suited them to characterize a politician as pompous or needing to “remember his place.”

    There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to not vote for Obama. This ain’t one of them.

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