“Images are not innocent. They tell us things about the world.” —Alfredo Jaar
Artworks that engage with the ideas, institutions, and conflicts surrounding the governance of society. Art has long played a role in the sphere of politics, as evidenced by artifacts such as the Code of Hammurabi from Babylon or monuments such as Trajan's column from imperial Rome. While politically charged artwork is most often associated with activities outside church or state patronage, the careers of artists such as Diego Velázquez, Francisco Goya, and Eugène Delacroix have demonstrated that political messages, whether subtle or overt, can resonate in officially commissioned works. Artists have long been associated with radical political activity; Jacques-Louis David's involvement in the French Revolution is an often-cited example. During the 20th century, the Mexican Mural School was associated with the country's 1910 revolution and continued its legacy through images of working class liberation. And American and European artists during and since the 1960s have created a multitude of antiwar and socially-engaged artworks. Their practices—as well as those of artists outside America and Europe—continue to inspire contemporary artists, as politically-engaged art is one of the most prominent types of work being created today.