Most art in the ICR bears a resemblance to the Soviet Realist style, but with strong ‘20s Neo-Mayan/Aztec and Art Deco influences. This unusual but distinctive "Californian" style is most pronounced in major cities, where it inflects everything from architecture to sculpture to fashion to posters and pop art.
Design elements from Native American and especially Pre-Columbian Mexican art are frequently incorporated into ICR insignia and buildings. Ziggurat-esque towers, like some of the higher-end A-Rank apartment buildings, are one of the more obvious manifestations of this influence. Floral, weather-related and other agrarian motifs on public structures are common. In the major cities, these designs are sometimes enhanced with decorative neon lighting, turning the evening skyline into a glowing garden.
Right: "Pyramid Apartment House" by Edwin A. Koch, as printed in Popular Science, July 1940.
"Carrying modern set-back architecture to its logical extreme, the huge building provides a private terrace, with penthouse airiness, for every tenant above the fourth floor. No windows face the interior, a naturally ventilated hollow core fourteen stories high. ... Open corners of the building’s cross-shaped base provide a two-way automobile drive, a parking space for visitors, and two covered garages for tenants."
The Party believes that (non-bourgeoisie) art should either serve an immediate practical purpose or be free and easily accessible for public consumption. Small-scale murals and statues are ubiquitous in the ICR. Even a modestly-sized or sparsely settled residential area may boast several murals, usually painted on factories, residential towers or other utilitarian structures. Painted art is less uniform than architecture, and can range from abstract to ultra-realist. Like Chinese and North Korean socialist-realist art, bright and vivid colors are the norm, and many murals have an inspirational or propagandistic tone. Common subjects include patriotic depictions of historical events and pastoral scenes of farmers, workers or imagined Aztecs.
As the ICR is a polyglot nation, art does not usually include any textual motifs or slogans, though posters are sometimes designed with trilingual captions (see Unofficial Languages: English, Spanish and Mandarin
). Nahuatl mottos and phrases are sometimes used for decorative effect.
Almost all public artworks are commissioned by the Party, though the Party may not take credit. Many murals, for example, are said to be spontaneous public expressions of art, though they are obviously commissioned. Creating genuinely amateur/non-commissioned art is slightly dangerous and is best attempted with the sponsorship (and under the supervision) of a Party member. Artists who do attract a Party patron lead enviable lives, and receive generous fees and perks for their services.