Social Realism was first labeled as a definable art movement in the 1920s, when art and propaganda merged during the Russian Revolution. Much of today's social art is beyond mere "social realism," following a path from realism to abstraction and transcendence, initially trod by artists such as Mark Rothko and Barnett, an abstraction encoded with utopian ideology. In the late twentieth century, a strikingly different kind of social realism emerged. Though propaganda plays heavily into the mix, so does a darker reality borne out on the streets of urban centers and inrual backyards, languishing in a post-industrial depression. Since the 1980s, socially conscious artists have increasingly addressed issues of narcissism/vanity, consumption, commerce, sex, drugs, and AIDS. Work by 25 artists is represented in "Social Strategies", including Jenny Holzer, Gilbert & George, and Felix Gonzalez-Torres.
Arts-Photography, History-Criticism, History,