In Defense of Artistic Freedom

The pianist Igor Levit and the defense of culture against fascism

By David North and Clara Weiss, 22 October 2020

Levit has emerged as a powerful voice against the resurgence of neo-Nazism in Germany, which finds its most putrid expression in the growing political power of the Alternative für Deutschland.

Tenor Placido Domingo, defending his character and reputation, retracts “apologies” for alleged sexual harassment

By Fred Mazelis, 29 September 2020

Operatic tenor Placido Domingo told an interviewer for Spanish television last Saturday that his apologies last February for alleged sexual misconduct had been taken out of context, and that he was not guilty of abuse or mistreatment.

Cultural resources wiped out by COVID-19 crisis: 13 percent of museums worldwide may never reopen

By Clare Hurley, 27 May 2020

Some 95 percent of the world’s museums are currently closed, and more than 11,000 institutions may remain closed after the pandemic recedes.

Classical musicians, orchestras and opera companies confront COVID-19 lockdown

By Fred Mazelis, 29 April 2020

Freelance and younger musicians are especially hard hit by cancellations and shutdowns.

COVID-19’s devastating impact on artists

By Clare Hurley, 29 April 2020

Ninety-five percent of arts workers in the US have lost income due to the coronavirus pandemic, with 62 percent now unemployed, according to a recently published survey by Americans for the Arts.

Detroit Symphony musicians to take 20 percent pay cut

By Shannon Jones, 15 April 2020

Orchestras, opera companies, museums and other cultural institutions face severe revenue strains due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are responding with major cuts.

#MeToo campaign shows its ultra-right colors: Hachette Book Group suppresses Woody Allen’s memoir

By David Walsh, 9 March 2020

Hachette announced Friday it would not publish filmmaker-comic Woody Allen’s memoir at the behest of journalist Ronan Farrow and in the face of protests by its own employees.

2020 Academy Awards: Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite from South Korea wins major awards

By David Walsh, 11 February 2020

Parasite deserved to win the most serious awards, being markedly superior to every other film up for consideration. Bong’s effort is a complex, troubling work.

Despite #MeToo protest, Berlin audience applauds opera singer Placido Domingo

By Sybille Fuchs, 23 January 2020

The Berlin Staatsoper refused to comply with a call for an anti-democratic ban on Domingo performing raised by the “Pro Quote Bühne” group and Green Party politicians.

Modern-day philistinism and reaction: the New York Times considers “canceling” French painter Paul Gauguin

By David Walsh, 25 November 2019

The Times published an article November 18 with a headline that posed the question, “Is It Time Gauguin Got Canceled?”

045 Baltimore symphony lockout

16 September 2019

220 San Francisco mural leaflet

14 August 2019

210 SF murals

6 August 2019

Petition against UK “drill” music ban defends freedom of speech

By Paul Bond, 29 June 2019

Rap artists Krept and Konan’s petition points to the moral bankruptcy of state attempts to blame drill music for violence and crime.

San Francisco School Board votes to destroy left-wing murals they claim are “racist” and “white supremacist”

By Toby Reese, 28 June 2019

On Tuesday evening, the San Francisco Unified School Board voted unanimously to destroy or cover over the historic 1936 “Life of George Washington Murals” at a district high school. The vote is a reactionary decision that marks a new stage in the censorship drive that began last December.

”We can’t erase history to suit people’s feelings”

San Francisco residents voice opposition to censorship of George Washington High School murals

By Evan Blake and Alex Gonzalez, 28 June 2019

Numerous residents spoke out against the destruction of art and the need to contextualize the murals for a younger audience.

“Everyone should have access to great arts education”

Musicians Emma Gerstein and Max Raimi speak on Chicago Symphony Orchestra strike

By our reporters, 27 April 2019

As the CSO strike reaches a critical turning point, musicians Emma Gerstein and Max Raimi speak about the strike and in defense of arts and culture.

Mayor Emanuel intervenes to shut down Chicago Symphony Orchestra strike

By George Marlowe, 26 April 2019

As part of his final act on behalf of the city’s financial elite, outgoing Mayor Rahm Emanuel has offered to intervene to end the nearly two-month strike by Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) musicians

Striking musician: “Art is what makes us human”

Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians strike in its second week

By Michael Walters, 21 March 2019

As the strike by CSO musicians in opposition to concessions entered week two, the Democratic Party and the trade unions feigned support for the strike.

“A Weinsteinian sex pest”?

In defence of poet Robert Burns: “Ye know, and dare maintain, the Royalty of Man”

By Paul Bond, 15 March 2018

The ahistorical middle-class moralizing of the sexual misconduct campaign has perhaps reached a new low with an attack on the great Scots poet Robert Burns (1759-1796).

Pentagon faces outrage for declaring Guantanamo art will burn

By E.B. Cohen, 20 December 2017

The Pentagon is directing its military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to confiscate detainees’ finished art and has threatened to destroy it.

Another reactionary attack on artist Dana Schutz, this time in Boston—and a healthy response

By David Walsh, 10 August 2017

Schutz’s painting of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old black youth murdered in Mississippi in 1955, came under attack in March when it was shown as part of the Whitney Museum’s Biennial in New York City.

Musician-singer M.I.A dropped from Afropunk festival for criticizing Black Lives Matter

By David Walsh and Zac Corrigan, 18 July 2016

M.I.A. has every right to criticize Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, who travel in privileged circles around the Obamas and other leading Democratic Party figures.

Media lends support to Toronto Symphony’s barring of pianist

By Roger Jordan, 16 April 2015

Instead of denouncing the TSO’s barring of Valentina Lisitsa as a blatant act of political censorship, the media has widely portrayed it as nothing more than a public relations blunder.

The Death of Klinghoffer premieres in New York

By Fred Mazelis, 22 October 2014

Despite vitriolic attacks and demands that the performance be cancelled, John Adams’s work went on as scheduled at the Metropolitan Opera on Monday night.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera threatens August 1 lockout

By Fred Mazelis, 26 July 2014

The board of trustees is demanding that musicians and other staff pay for the financial difficulties of the opera company.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera demands major givebacks from thousands of employees

By Fred Mazelis, 27 June 2014

The ruling elite is demanding complete control over all aspects of cultural life.

The Metropolitan Opera’s censorship of The Death of Klinghoffer

By David Walsh, 21 June 2014

The opera company’s decision to cancel its global video and radio transmission of John Adams’ work is a scandalous and cowardly capitulation to right-wing forces.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera cancels broadcasts of The Death of Klinghoffer

By Fred Mazelis, 19 June 2014

Met general manager Peter Gelb’s announcement is an attempt to appease the right-wing Zionist lobby.

Australian government threatens arts funding following Sydney Biennale protest over refugees

By Richard Phillips, 17 March 2014

Attorney-General George Brandis demanded new arts funding protocols following the Biennale’s decision to end a funding deal with Transfield, a refugee camp contractor.

US Environmental Protection Agency lifts ban on federal contracts for BP

By Tom Hall, 17 March 2014

The EPA announced last week that it would allow BP to compete for new federal oil contracts, lifting a ban instituted in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Artists boycott Sydney biennale over Australia’s asylum seeker regime

By Richard Phillips, 6 March 2014

Australian and international artists protest over Canberra’s incarceration and brutal treatment of refugees.

Egyptian military persecutes filmmaker who witnessed crackdown

By Dylan Lubao, 9 October 2013

After detaining them for two months, Egypt's military regime still refuses to let filmmaker John Greyson and surgeon Tarek Loubani leave Egypt.

Photojournalists, artist censored by Australian authorities

By Richard Phillips, 8 June 2013

Australian officials have launched a new assault on freedom of expression over the past two weeks, censoring photographs in Sydney and an art installation in Melbourne.

Censorship and complicity at the Venice Biennale

By Paul Bond, 5 June 2013

Artist Jeremy Deller has withdrawn a work of art, criticising the monarchy, from the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale, at the request from Foreign Office-backed British council.

Questions of political principle in the defense of culture

Why we oppose the Detroit Institute of Arts millage

By Barry Grey, 3 August 2012

The millage vote takes place in the context of an unrelenting assault on art and culture in Detroit and nationally.

Louisville Orchestra to hire replacement musicians

By Naomi Spencer, 14 April 2012

After a year-and-a-half struggle by musicians, Louisville Orchestra management announced Thursday that it would begin hiring replacement musicians this month.

After first bowing to Zionist McCarthyism:

City University of New York restores honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner

By Fred Mazelis, 12 May 2011

The City University of New York board initially voted to deny Kushner a degree after one trustee objected to his alleged hostility to Israel and Zionism.

Iranian filmmaker sentenced to six years in jail

By Richard Phillips, 23 December 2010

Iranian authorities have framed up acclaimed filmmaker Jafar Panahi who now faces six years’ jail and is banned from making films, writing scripts, giving interviews or travelling abroad for the next 20 years.

National Portrait Gallery in Washington bows to right-wing censorship

By Niall Green, 3 December 2010

In an act of prostration before Catholic extremists and the Republican Party, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., removed an art work from one of its exhibitions Tuesday.

DSO musicians hold spirited picket in week seven of strike

By James Brewer, 17 November 2010

Musicians conducted a strong picket of a performance by the Vienna Boys Choir which DSO management held at Orchestra Hall in Detroit.

Interview with striking Detroit Symphony violist Hart Hollman

“What is happening to the DSO is a poster child for what is happening to the arts in America”

By Shannon Jones, 19 October 2010

Hart Hollman, a violist with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for 38 years, spoke to WSWS reporters Saturday about the ongoing strike by musicians, and its cultural and social implications.

Indian writer Arundhati Roy threatened with prosecution under anti-terrorism law

By Kranti Kumara, 26 April 2010

Police in the east Indian state of Chhattisgarh are “exploring” laying charges under the state’s draconian anti-terrorism law against Arundhati Roy.

Held in Swiss jail for two months

Film director Roman Polanski to be freed on bail

By David Walsh, 28 November 2009

The Swiss justice ministry announced Thursday that it would not appeal a court ruling handed down the day before permitting filmmaker Roman Polanski’s release on bail, opening the way for the director to be freed within the next several days.

A conversation with organizers of the Toronto film festival protest

The issues around the spotlight on Tel Aviv

By David Walsh, 21 November 2009

At the recent Toronto film festival, a number of film and video artists protested the event’s spotlight on Tel Aviv, accusing the festival of colluding with Israel’s “re-branding” effort. David Walsh spoke to some of the protest organizers.

An evaluation of Roman Polanski as an artist—Part 1

By David Walsh, 18 November 2009

Filmmaker Roman Polanski remains in a Zurich jail cell, while his lawyers fight the efforts by US authorities to extradite him. The director has a half-century-long artistic career that needs to be assessed.

The sordid coalition pursuing filmmaker Roman Polanski

By David Walsh, 8 October 2009

The effort to vilify film director Roman Polanski and have him extradited to the United States has become the rallying point for a broader campaign against “Hollywood liberals,” intellectuals, artists, and non-conformists of all sorts.

Writer Budd Schulberg, unrepentant informer, dead at 95

By David Walsh, 7 August 2009

Schulberg was a member of the Communist Party in the late 1930s and subsequently “named names” before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) in May 1951. To the end of his life he defended his informing, and that experience largely defines his legacy.

Letter: BBC program looks at the life of blacklisted actor Sam Wanamaker

16 March 2009

A recent BBC program explored the family history of blacklisted actor Sam Wanamaker

Australian artists face new censorship measures

By Gabriela Zabala-Notaras, 9 February 2009

The Australia Council for the Arts, the federal government’s principal arts funding body, has released a code of behaviour for artists, exhibitors and publishers depicting children in their work. The measures constitute an attack on freedom of expression.

City Hall versus the Brooklyn Museum:

Artistic freedom and democratic rights under attack in New York

the Editorial Board, 1 October 1999

The campaign being waged by New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani against the Brooklyn Museum is a crude act of state censorship. Neither Giuliani nor any other politician can be allowed to dictate which pieces of art go on display in a public museum—in the present case, a cultural institution that employs 500 people and draws half a million visitors a year.

Art and freedom

André Breton and problems of twentieth-century culture

By Frank Brenner and David Walsh, 16 June 1997

In June and July 1938 Leon Trotsky, exiled Russian revolutionary, and André Breton, French Surrealist poet and thinker, collaborated in Mexico on the writing of an extraordinary "Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art." This declaration remains the most eloquent expression yet produced of the commonality of interests of the artist and the revolutionary Marxist.