Culture Under the Great Dictators, 1930-45

Painting, sculpture, photography, poster art, architecture, pageant - all were used by the totalitarian regimes in the 1930s. We review a selection of the images from the Hayward Gallery exhibition.

The International Exhibition held in Paris in May 1937, under the auspices of Leon Blum's Popular Front Government, was in the direct line of descent from the sequence of such displays of the arts, pure and applied, that had begun with London's Great Exhibition in 1851. Inevitably, coming less than a year after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War had provided the first open national conflict between Left and Right in Europe, it served as a focus for the competing ideologies of states, particularly via the national pavilions' which dominated the Exposition. 'All or almost all, made political statements', Eric Hobsbawm writes in the Introduction to the Hayward catalogue, 'if only by advertising the virtues of their "way of life" and arts'.

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