From ancient empires to modern dictatorships, there are clear similarities in the way despots across history imposed their taste on the arts and their surroundings. Details of style may vary between regimes, but turgid opulence and the abuse of art and artists are common features of oppressive regimes. Most dictators routinely cannibalize the past to invent aberrant reinterpretations of art and architecture, or hijack and corrupt archeological remnants to incorporate into their propaganda schemes. The parallels across history are impossible to ignore. The course will examine the roots of this phenomenon, consider specific historical examples of monuments across cultures, and explore how art and artists were used and abused in the service of absolute power.
Hoyne Santa-Balazs has been teaching university art history classes for over 20 years. She has been teaching for ELLA since 2012. Her interests include art and the law, illegal trafficking in art, and the protection of cultural property in war zones. She is a recipient of several teaching awards from both the U of A and MacEwan University.