Art and Culture

How to Read Donald Duck

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Written in Chile in 1971 by Ariel Dorfman and Armand Mattelart, How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic has had a troubled existence. Copies were burnt in Chile following 11 September 1973, when the Popular Unity government led by Salvador Allende was overthrown.

When translated only 1,500 copies of the 4,000 published were allowed into the US. It is only now that an American publisher has dared to reprint it in the country.

Robert Indiana, 1928-2018

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The death has been announced of two of the bastions of the pop art movement, the artist Robert Indiana and the magazine Interview. Together they signal the final collapse of an art movement born from the detritus of commercial capitalism and, in some of its practitioners, a critique of capitalism using capital’s own techniques and tools. Its demise can be summed up in Robert Indiana’s own life story and how his art has been rewritten to suit the 21st century art market.

He was born Robert Clark in New Castle, Indiana, on

13 September 1928. After three years in the US

Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory

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In his monumental work, Weimar in Exile, Jean-Michel Palmier powerfully evokes the huge sense of loss, displacement and trauma that artists, writers and intellectuals faced when they were forced into exile from Nazi Germany as the fascist regime tightened its grip and control of the German state during the 1930s and then across Europe with the onset of war and occupation.

Historical blindness hurts

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Three recent arguments over cultural representations of anti-racist struggle expose a willingness to distort or ignore real historical events in order to fit with current ideas, writes Ken Olende.

The Metropolitan Police brutally attack a peaceful anti-racist demonstration in a key early scene from the new TV drama Guerrilla. It is 1971 and the police violence recalls two real incidents — the demonstration against police harassment that led to the arrest of the Mangrove Nine, and the later death of anti-racist activist Blair Peach.

Gustav Metzger, 1926 to 2017

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The artist, refugee, political activist and influential creator of “auto-destructive” art, Gustav Metzger, died last month. Noel Halifax recalls his radical contribution to the culture of Britain in the 1960s and 1970s.

Art and artists come in and out of fashion, as does their influence and people’s interpretation of it. In recent years Gustav Metzger, who died in March, has been out of fashion. His heyday was the 1960s and 70s when he was central to the shape and direction of the British art world and ironically created one of the foundations on which the current bloated art scene is based. Ironically, because he was politically opposed to the current art world, hated the art market and all that it stands for.

Alan Simpson (1929-2017)

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Alan Simpson (left) with co-writer Ray Galton (right) and Tony Hancock (centre)

Alan Simpson, who has died aged 87, was half of one of the most talented and socially-perceptive comedy-writing partnerships of post-war Britain. He and Ray Galton created two of Britain’s best-loved comedy series, Hancock’s Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.

Alan Simpson was born in Brixton to a working class family, the son of a window-cleaner. He attended Mitcham grammar school but left early to work as a shipping clerk.

David King: The man who rescued the avant-garde

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Graphic designer David King, who died last month, was inspired by the art produced in revolutionary Russia. Roger Huddle looks back on a pathbreaking artist and his contribution to political struggle over five decades.

The news of his death came as a shock. We had come through the same history, but together for only a short period.

As times were changing during the two decades from 1965 young socialists began to discover the cultural upheavals during Russia’s revolution, hidden by Stalinism and ignored in the West. As the new left reconnected with Trotsky, those involved in cultural production discovered Constructivism, Agit-prop, the poetry of Mayakovsky and the photography of Rodchenko.

Who decides if culture is authentic?

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Recent controversies over food, hairstyles and music have highlighted the complexities of race and representation. Ken Olende unpacks some of the issues surrounding the notion of "cultural appropriation" and argues that culture is constantly evolving.

Beyoncé managed to both delight and offend with her US Superbowl tribute to the Black Panther Party. Fox News got a police sergeant to say it was the equivalent to a white act coming out in “hoods and white sheets”. She was attacked both by the right for politicising a sports event and by some on the left for trivialising a political movement, by turning a revolutionary struggle into a sexualised dance routine.

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