The Soviet Union, even under the influence of Marxism-Leninism retained a great affinity for the classics, something that was certainly far from true of some Communist societies. But that meant the classics had to be twisted around to fit the Marxist perspective on everything. What that did to Hamlet you could well imagine.
These days, we’re doing it too, as this excerpt from a larger Tablet essay by Alice Gribbin on art museum wokeness shows. The subject is a Hogarth exhibition. The museum reinterprets everything through the lens of critical race theory, ranting about black bodies and slavery no matter what the subject may be.
And then we get to this Hogarth self-portrait in which there’s nothing except the artist himself.
The sublime result could have thrilled any Communist essayist forced to fit a random piece of culture into Marxism-Leninism.
In a self-portrait of the artist at work, the chair in which Hogarth sits “literally supports him and exemplifies his view on beauty. The chair is made from timbers shipped from the colonies, via routes which also shipped enslaved people. Could the chair also stand in for all those unnamed Black and Brown people enabling the society that supports his vigorous creativity?”
The chair, my friends, embodies slavery, racism, colonialism, and black people.
No Bolshevik could have topped the absurdity here.
An India Telegraph essay noted the same chair insanity, but also added this entry from the National Gallery.
This week, the National Gallery released a report prepared by University College, London, that warned undiscerning visitors that a section of its collection, including paintings by Thomas Gainsborough and donated by William Wordsworth, was somehow linked to the slave trade. According to The Daily Telegraph report, Gainsborough painted two pictures of families whose wealth derived from the slave trade. Wordsworth, who presented a John Constable painting in 1837, has been included in the offenders’ list “because his sister’s rented cottage was leased by a slave-owner”.
His sister’s rented cottage.
This is your culture. This is your culture on critical race theory.