The University Of Iowa Art Museum Essay

The University Of Iowa Art Museum Essay

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Brooke Felderman

The University of Iowa Art Museum


Propaganda and Power


Individuals in positions of power have been developing new ways to influence

populations toward a cause, or position for centuries. The act of propaganda is giving information that is not impartial and used primarily to influence an audience in regards to a further agenda, often by presenting facts selectively. Terms like, “purposeful persuasion”, or “systematic attempt to shape perceptions” can also be associated with propaganda. No one exemplifies these tactics more than those who have had a seat in power. Emperors, presidents, royalty, or militant leaders; any of these have had their hands propaganda. In this exhibit, we will take a closer look to two different leaders in particular: Augustus, founder and first emperor of the Roman Empire from 63 BC until his death in 14 AD, along with Benito Mussolini, leader of the National Fascist Party and Prime Minster from 1922 to 1943.These two ruled at very different times in history, however, share many connections and similarities. We can see this throughout different pieces of work created under their power that could be considered propaganda.
An appropriate place to start seems to be with the Portrait of Augustus as General. This marble statue of Augustus shows him taking on the role as the commander of the army, meaning the statue should form part of a commemorative remembrance to some of his latest victories. He is seen in military clothing, carrying a baton, raising his right hand and putting weight on his right foot, perhaps addressing his troops. The reliefs you can find in the detail of his armor have a complex political and allegorical agenda behind them. These could include the latest territo...


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...us had the opportunity to experience this after his own victory as well. The war booty would then be used to fund more projects around the city. Mussolini created a very similar celebration years later. There was a triumphal procession honoring the 1st anniversary of Mussolini’s empire. The processions was similar to the Roman’s, he used the booty from Ethiopia to fund new structures too, just like Augustus.
Ara Pacis Augustae, or the Altar of Augustan Peace, is the next piece to observe in this collection. This monument was originally commissioned by the Roman Senate to honor the return of Augustus to Rome. This altar shows his vision of Roman civil religion. It is best known for the decoration on the exterior depicting vegetal work meant to communicate the abundance of peace throughout Rome, while also sharing the procession of members of the Imperial household.

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