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Cold War ModernistsArt, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy$
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Greg Barnhisel

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231162302

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231162302.001.0001

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“Advancing American Art”

“Advancing American Art”

Modernist Painting and Public–Private Partnerships

(p.55) 2 “Advancing American Art”
Cold War Modernists

Greg Barnhisel

Columbia University Press

This chapter describes the disjointed and often discouraged art program of the Department of State and United States Information Agency, which sponsored several touring exhibitions that included modernist paintings. The 1947 exhibit Advancing American Art is well known because of its humiliating termination when it came under attack from congressional conservatives and the Hearst press, both of whom ridiculed the modernist paintings included in the show and insisted they were fundamentally radical and un-American. After the Eisenhower administration came into office, the cultural diplomats permitted more and more modernist content to creep into their exhibitions, and by 1959 even President Eisenhower defended the challenging works included in the American National Exhibition in Moscow and publicly endorsed artistic freedom as a basic American value.

Keywords:   modernism, US State Department, US Information Agency, touring exhibition, American art, modernist paintings, Eisenhower administration, American values, American culture

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