Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

ARTV308 Totalitarian Art in Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and the USSR

A comparative interdisciplinary examination of the entanglement of art and politics in the visual culture (paintings, photography, political posters, propaganda exhibitions, film) and architecture of the European single-party states.

We begin by considering the roots of totalitarian art in the avant-garde and modernist movements of the early twentieth century, when artists sought to transform society through the creation of entirely new artistic forms of mass appeal.

After examining the distinct ideologies and their manifestation in the art and visual propaganda of the various regimes, we consider a number of comparative topics, including the representation of each regime's ideal new person; propaganda exhibitions; the leadership cults of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin; and the urban planning and architecture for the capitols of Berlin, Rome and Moscow. We also consider the symbolic confrontation of Fascism and Communism at the Paris Exposition of 1937, followed by an exploration of the war art and visual propaganda produced by Germany and the USSR during WW2.

In conclusion, we consider the legacy of totalitarianism in contemporary art and recent developments in Eastern Europe, including the growing authoritarianism of Putinism and the censorship of contemporary art in the Russian Federation. The bulk of assessment is devoted to a semester-long research project on a topic developed by the student in consultation with the lecturer.

Paper title Totalitarian Art in Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and the USSR
Paper code ARTV308
Subject Art History and Visual Culture
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2020
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $904.05
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,954.75

^ Top of page

One 200-level ARTH, ARTV, HIST, or VISC paper
ARTH 323, ARTH 423, ARTV 408
Schedule C
Arts and Music
(i) May not be credited together with ARTH 319 passed in 2003. (ii) Students who have not passed the normal prerequisite may be admitted with approval from the Head of Department.

To be advised when paper next offered.

Teaching staff

To be advised when paper next offered.

Course materials will be made available electronically.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Deepen students' knowledge of the range of art produced under the patronage of a variety of 20th-century political regimes and to develop a critical understanding of the political, artistic, and ethical issues relevant to studying this art
  • Develop awareness of the significance of this art and its reception to the broader histories of 20th-century and contemporary art
  • Cultivate independent research and self-motivated learning

^ Top of page


Not offered in 2020

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system