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Bohemian Los Angelesand the Making of Modern Politics$
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Daniel Hurewitz

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780520249257

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520249257.001.0001

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1930S Containment: Identity By State Dictate

1930S Containment: Identity By State Dictate

Chapter:
(p.114) Three 1930S Containment: Identity By State Dictate
Source:
Bohemian Los Angeles
Author(s):

Daniel Hurewitz

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520249257.003.0005

While Edendale’s arts community focused on sustaining independent artistic expression, the involvement of the federal government politicized art-making dramatically and narrowed the range of acceptable art. Although the Federal Art Project set out to support creative aesthetic explorations, it pushed for artists to create art in a manner that would speak in a language which was directed to the people and comprehensible to them. This coercion on the part of the federal government restrained the experimentation of the artists of Edendale. The earlier questions on the modes of expression and unique artistic vision were drowned out by the demands of the subject matter. The project directors instead pushed artists to create work and art that the public wanted. This chapter discusses the federal government’s move to limit the intimate expression of artists, particularly the local government’s control of the intimate sexual lives of the city’s residents. It discusses the emergence of a new political culture that framed homosexuality and homosexual desires as a dangerous and disturbing essence or identity. The new political culture also marked sexual deviance and gendered behavior as synonymous with the threats of moralistic fervor and Communism. It resulted in legal sanctions, arrests, imprisonments, and institutionalization—all designed to transform the meaning of homosexual desires and activity.

Keywords:   politicized art-making, Federal Art Project, homosexuality, sexual deviance, gendered behavior, recall, Frank Shaw

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