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By Greg Barnhisel

Ecu intellectuals of the Nineteen Fifties pushed aside American tradition as not anything greater than cowboy videos and the A-bomb. In reaction, American cultural diplomats attempted to teach that the us had anything to provide past army may perhaps and advertisement exploitation. via literary magazines, touring artwork shows, traveling musical indicates, radio courses, publication translations, and meetings, they deployed the innovative aesthetics of modernism to prove--particularly to the leftists whose chilly battle loyalties they was hoping to secure--that American paintings and literature have been aesthetically wealthy and culturally significant.
Yet by way of repurposing modernism, American diplomats and cultural experts became the avant-garde into the institution. They remade the as soon as progressive stream right into a content-free choice of creative ideas and types compatible for middlebrow intake. chilly battle Modernists records how the CIA, the nation division, and personal cultural diplomats reworked modernist paintings and literature into pro-Western propaganda throughout the first decade of the chilly warfare. Drawing on interviews, formerly unknown archival fabrics, and the tales of such figures and associations as William Faulkner, Stephen Spender, Irving Kristol, James Laughlin, and Voice of the United States, Barnhisel unearths how the U.S. govt reconfigured modernism as a trans-Atlantic flow, a joint activity among American and eu artists, with profound implications for the paintings that and for the nature of yankee identification.

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And 15 INTRODUCTION where Rockefeller represents the collaboration of business and plutocracy with government, MacLeish stands in for the artist who engages in public service. MacLeish joined the “Lost Generation” in Paris in the 1920s and then wrote for Henry Luce’s Fortune magazine in the 1930s, when it featured leftists such as James Agee and Dwight Macdonald on its masthead. Although MacLeish adamantly refused to associate himself with the Communist Party, his public political stances mirrored those of the Popular Front movement, and he published in such Communist-linked outlets as the New Masses during this time.

Literary critic and editor Malcolm Cowley, painter Ben Shahn, actor John Houseman, poet Charles Olson, and historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. worked under MacLeish at OFF (although Cowley was forced to resign in 1942 under congressional pressure over his Communist activities in the 1930s). At OFF and then at the OWI, MacLeish brought his modernist sensibility to his job; he recruited modernist painters Stuart Davis, Reginald Marsh, Marc Chagall, and Yasuo Kuniyoshi to the OWI but snubbed Norman Rockwell (whose Four Freedoms paintings, executed for the Saturday Evening Post, later became the “centerpiece of a traveling war-bond sales campaign”38).

One may begin the history of modern art,” Alfred H. Barr Jr. ”11 The use of the terms modern and modernist with clear connections to how they came to be used in the 1950s, though, was widespread earlier in the visual arts than in literature. Public and critical discussion commonly included the specific words modernism and modern art by the early 1900s, and, at least in the English-speaking world, modernism had come to mean oppositionalism, experimentation, bohemianism, and shock, as with the notorious Rite of Spring premiere in Paris in 1913 (breathlessly reported by the New York Times12) or with the contentious Futurist exhibitions and lectures in London in 1910 and 1912.

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