The Victorian era in England existed between 1837 and 1901 which was the life and death of Queen Victoria. It should be noted that it was Teddy Roosevelt’s first year in office that the Queen died sending through New York society a shock wave of sentimentality that persisted into the beginning of a new movement, called progressivism. The Victorians of New England prided themselves upon the life and culture of Europe during this time of peace between England and France and pointed to the culture that emitted from the motherland as the beam of light that the entire world should emulate. The Victorians sought to achieve this through their progressive presidents of society, men like Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson and members of the press who would carry on the appeal of the Great Queen Victoria.
It was no stretch that painters like William Etty gained prominence in artistic circles because he exported to the world many of the values of progressive politics. But this did not go over well among the Christian dominated cultures of North America where Etty’s work was considered far too risqué to be accepted part of American culture. Controversy abounded as Etty’s work was shown to the world through progressive art circles advocated by the New England Victorians beholding the memory of their European idol.
It should be noted that Etty’s work still shapes our current culture especially in art. It is basically Etty who established the parameters of what constitutes an R rating for motion pictures, an X rating, or a PG rating. The motion picture industry used Etty’s presentation of the nude to film their actresses for R ratings. So art plays a very powerful role in shaping a culture. One man, like William Etty can shape an entire political movement as the Victorians used Etty to advance progressive politics and the spread of academic monopoly over racism, sexual liberation, and cultural focus.
But that world of the Victorians is collapsing and American society is left hungry and feeling vacant. These feelings of course are beginning to find their way into the art of our culture. They are in the books of Glenn Beck, the comedy of Tim Hawkins and the paintings of Jon McNaughton whom I absolutely adore and are reflecting this new age, the age of the patriot that will sweep away and reject what the Victorians started by way of art replacing them with the type of images seen in McNaughton’s paintings.
I see in the criticism of McNaughton’s The Forgotten Man many of the same criticism launched at Etty, only it’s the reversal groups. It is now the thinkers, the men and women of the mind who have been starving for content and value who were pushed aside when the Victorians ushered in Etty who are now finding voice through McNaughton. I personally find The Forgotten Man painting brilliant in that it tells a proper story. Unlike the Etty feature where the husband of the beautiful woman wanted to show off his wife’s nude body to another man seen tip toeing around the corner, The Forgotten Man shows the thinking man sitting on a park bench surrounded by the types of groups who currently make up our society. It is the Victorian progressives who stand clapping at President Obama as he steps on the Constitution in the right hand side of the picture, and the traditionalists standing on the left pointing at the man on the bench pleading for Obama to look at the man, to remember what everything was supposed to be about. The picture is so brilliant it even places George W. Bush where he belongs right behind Obama looking to his right at the traditionalists as though he felt bad to be where he is.
Have a look at that painting for yourself and listen to Jon McNaughton explain it.
The painting is a didactic work of art. Some art purists might call it pornography in that it is designed to move the viewer into a particular emotion. But in this sense it is equal to the work of Etty which was intended to literally convey sexual energy. McNaughton is trying to paint a picture of our times as he sees it, which is the task of the artist. As a work of art, the picture either achieves this or it doesn’t. For me, The Forgotten Man is very good, and very successful. It will stand proudly in a gallery in Venice, or London someday and will represent this time and age more accurately than many of the films produced in this era. It is a painting that says a lot in a simple scene.
But this isn’t the first time this was done by McNaughton. In the painting One Nation Under God it was shown that America was greatly influenced by Jesus Christ, which it was, and various elements on the left such as the media and other progressives are actually being pushed along by the devil. When I look at this painting by McNaughton I think of the Michelangelo painting called The Last Judgment painted on the alter wall of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City. The primary difference between the two works is one of scale but the essence of the message is essentially the same. The same basic metaphors are used for the same didactic effect.
It is easier to look at the work of Michelangelo and profess him a master because the painting of The Last Judgment was done over a 4 year period and completed in 1541, and is in a far away land separated from current political influences. When Michelangelo is discussed the focus of the modern academic is on the massive scope of those Michelangelo paintings of the Renaissance, and not so much the content. The content of religious overtones is regarded as out-of-date and therefore out-of-fashion by the Victorian contemporaries.
McNaughton’s work is so powerful, even on the smaller scale; it’s the metaphors that have the progressive art critics scared for their very existences. Entire generations of Victorian art critics have tried very hard to prevent artists of the caliber of talent of a McNaughton to emerge. Most of the great brush painters of our day are easily controlled in our public institutions and McNaughton is a terrifying example to them that someone of great talent has escaped! The didactic art of Jon McNaughton has the power to alter American culture and they know it.
Progressives who know art and history cannot ridicule McNaughton without criticizing Etty, so they are caught in a quandary. They are attempting to portray McNaughton with the same tired euphemism of racism because there aren’t enough dark-skinned figures in McNaughton’s paintings, or other progressive platform points. But the essence of the paintings themselves, the metaphors cannot be challenged because they have meaning. This has left the media using anyone they can to come on record and attempt to deface McNaughton. So they resorted to a twenty something comic book artist from Columbus, Ohio to make the attempt.
Rachel Maddow even tried this recently when she posted on her blog a picture of The Forgotten Man to invite critical comments from her progressive viewers. You can read about that at The Blaze shown at the link below.
Art is intended to be controversial. Art proper will take the viewer beyond their known parameters to a place they hadn’t been before. Art used as a weapon as progressives have done by using nudity, religious desecration, and other forms of pornography to advance their political platform of “non thinking” to bend American society to the will of the Victorian era in tribute to their deceased queen are fair game. Art galleries all over the world will provide the testimony of the many ideological conflicts waged over the tapestry of time. The difference between their age, and the one we are in now is that Jon McNaughton represents the art of a new generation that is pretty pissed off and ready to breath fire upon the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the age of the Victorian progressive. I applaud the work of Jon McNaughton with not only a standing ovation but also by standing atop the tallest rung of the tallest ladder I can find to affirm it. Jon McNaughton’s work will be considered the Norman Rockwell of our day once the last of the Victorian progressive’s wither away into historical context, and the dark days of their reign will finally be at an end.
History will look to the painting of The Forgotten Man and declare that America woke up from a terrible dream about the time that this painting hit canvas from the mind of McNaughton in 2009. History will show that America found its way again once its people could look upon themselves in one of the fantastic paintings of this very talented artist and see how the invisible shackles they had not seen the Victorian progressives place about their feet came to be, but once seen sparked the newly found desire to fight for freedom.
For more about Jon McNaughton you can see his work at his home website.
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