Originally posted on The ADD-Challenged Eye:
G. Roger Denson’s second essay on Leftist political art covers the period from the end of the Second World War to the middle of the 1960s, an era of rapid political and cultural change. His survey is world-wide and very thorough and I’ll limit my discussion to three strictly American aspects of it; Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and the treatment of Race in America.
I’m not sure that I buy into Denson’s contention that humanity was conscious of a radically changed world at the end of WWII. My parents and their siblings were of that generation and most were veterans and they fully expected things to return to normal after the war, albeit with better economic opportunities available. The gravity of the nuclear age would take awhile to dawn on them.
I don’t know if the things that happened in the 1930s and 40s, like the Holocaust and the Rape of Nanking, were really all that new or if people just had better access to information. The Armenian Massacre, for which the word “genocide” was coined, dates back to 1915. The wholesale extermination of large numbers of people go way back in human history, but the technology to kill large numbers of people in a short time didn’t really develop until the 20th Century. Still, genocides with body counts in the tens of thousands date back to the 12th Century AD. China had it’s own massacre involving up to 800,000 victims in 1645, although it took ten days to pull off.