Michelle Bachmann’s Art History Lessons

The New Yorker’s profile of presidential contender Michelle Bachmann has no shortage of choice revelations. She sometimes lies about her biography, we learn. She helped found a charter school in Minnesota that flouted the separation of church and state. She calls her private plane the “Barbie jet.”

However, what really caught The Observer‘s attention was the fact that, in 1977, Ms. Bachmann and her husband Marcus watched a ten-part film series by the late theologian Francis Schaeffer–called “How Should We Then Live?”–that provides an evangelical-inflected view of Western art and philosophy, along with some healthy speculation that the U.S. government may be brainwashing people with mind-controlling drugs.

Watching the films was a “life-altering event” for the young couple, according to New Yorker writer Ryan Lizza, who shares:

“The iconic image from the early episodes is Schaeffer standing on a raised platform next to Michelangelo’s ‘David’ and explaining why, for all its beauty, Renaissance art represented a dangerous turn away from a God-centered world and toward a blasphemous, human-centered world.”

Happily, the video is available on YouTube. To see “David,” fast forward to 0:47, and imagine that Michelle and Marcus Bachmann are watching along with you.

Intrigued, The Observer decided to a bit more of the series and can now also recommend episode eight, titled “The Age of Fragmentation,” in which the theologian shares his thoughts on modern art and music (he’s generally not a fan, though there’s some nuance to his ideas), as he wanders around the Museum of Modern Art, visiting works by Cezanne, Picasso and Duchamp.

“The universe is not what [Jackson] Pollock in his paintings and [John] Cage in his music said it was,” he explains, as we watch him (sort of) replicate Pollock’s painting technique with paint cans hanging on strings. Here is the first part of episode eight:

The National Endowment for the Arts is going to thrive during a Bachmann presidency.

Michelle Bachmann’s Art History Lessons