Art as propaganda. The Romantic age had begun with the French revolution. Republican myth and Joseph Bara where the poltical mixes freely with the spiritual and the metaphors and allegories ricochet with the frequency of grape shot in the heat of battle. The child prodigy dying in a flame of glory. He was summoned by the magi, and with little to offer he played his drum for the infant Jesus, and such a solo it was, a mournful tune, a dirge, cascading to the gloriest of glories, but the fate of all who played for the messiah was to be snuffed out on a station of the cross.
If anything, the French Revolution crystallized the emerging sentiments of romanticism and the cult of youth that seemed intrinsic to it. The noble savage, the wild boy of Aveyron were part of an anthropological search for original shininess of being. A freshness to counterbalance the coming servitude to mechanized and administrative systems; the drum above being an emblem of lost freedom, a gap of generations not bound by the past traditions.
Joseph Bara like the jewish martyrs uttering Shema Israel, defiantly, before being cut down by the Roman centurion, Joseph Bara, this artificial creation of innocence and purity was elevated to symbol of sacrifice in the service of the state. A tin drummer, who protested against ancien regime mentality and their passive indifference to the people, but no one listened to him and the catastrophe went on.
Perhaps the first event that signaled the privileging of adolescence was the publication of Rousseau’s Emile in 1762. It introduced the scandalous idea that puberty was “a second birth.” Its characteristics were “a change of temper, frequent outbursts of anger, a perpetual stirring of the mind.” Shortly afterwards, in 1774, Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther appeared. Its adolescent hero became a romantic role model. Werther had the “sacred and inspiring ability to create new worlds,” but, as Jon Savage writes, he was subject to “extreme mood swings . . . sensitivity to social slights . . . and self-pitying rhetoric.”(16) Finding no way out of this emotional trap — unable to resolve his conflicts — he committed suicide. Unable to grow beyond his adolescent way of feeling and thinking, with its unrealistic expectations from the world and himself, he dead-ended in premature death, in effect confirming his arrested development. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/kuspit8-17-07.asp
…More importantly, bohemia artistically legitimated Article 28, that is, it was an artistic celebration of the revolutionary rights of youth, more particularly, the right of youth to revolt against the older generation and change the world, implying that as long as one kept rebelling one would never change and grow old oneself. In other words, adolescent revolt became an “artistic” way of remaining eternally young, at least in spirit if not in the letter of one’s body. ( ibid.)