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The truth behind 'post-truth'

The recent appointment of eminent Art historian Victoria Coates to President Trump’s National Security Council, is a move that seems to have gone totally under the radar. This is the body that advises the president over military matters both at home and abroad and on the surface, looks like one of the more left field appointments of what is already a seriously left field administration. Really? An Art historian advising the Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful military machine the world has ever seen? But it may not be as random as it seems. Not only did she work with Donald Rumsfeld in the late 2000s, but she recently advised Ted Cruz on his foreign policy during the presidential campaign. But crucially, as an Art historian, she is arguably better placed to understand the new politics of ‘fake news’ and ‘post-truth’ than most. The Art world has been using the term ‘post-meaning’ for a generation now, though its roots go further back to the beginning of Modern Art itself.
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Vorspung durch Kunst: the revolution of German Art

This week saw a new auction record for German Expressionist painter Max Beckmann, when his Hölle der Vögel   made £36 million at Christie’s in London on Tuesday evening. The painting has been referred to as ‘Germany’s Guernica’, a reference to the influential painting Picasso made in 1937 depicting the horrors of the Spanish Civil War.  Max Beckmann, Hölle der Vögel (Bird's Hell) , oil on canvas, 1937 Beckmann’s work was also painted in 1937 soon after he had fled Germany for exile in Amsterdam, and as such it not only stands as a withering indictment of the violence he saw at the hands of Hitler’s Socialist Nationalist revolution, but also as a chilling forewarning of its catastrophic future. The buyer, reportedly, was US billionaire Leon Black, who also purchased Munch’s The Scream from Sotheby’s in 2012. Watchers of International Contemporary Art have long-reported the rise in prices (and popularity) of Germany’s post-war artists. This Beckmann sale now extends