Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural by Greg Barnhisel

By Greg Barnhisel

Eu intellectuals of the Nineteen Fifties disregarded American tradition as not anything greater than cowboy video clips and the A-bomb. In reaction, American cultural diplomats attempted to teach that the USA had whatever to provide past army may possibly and advertisement exploitation. via literary magazines, touring artwork shows, traveling musical indicates, radio courses, ebook translations, and meetings, they deployed the progressive aesthetics of modernism to prove--particularly to the leftists whose chilly struggle loyalties they was hoping to secure--that American paintings and literature have been aesthetically wealthy and culturally significant.
Yet through repurposing modernism, American diplomats and cultural specialists grew to become the avant-garde into the institution. They remade the as soon as progressive circulate right into a content-free choice of inventive strategies and kinds appropriate for middlebrow intake. chilly warfare Modernists records how the CIA, the country 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 finds how the U.S. govt reconfigured modernism as a trans-Atlantic flow, a joint activity among American and ecu artists, with profound implications for the artwork that and for the nature of yankee id.

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Extra info for Cold War Modernists: Art, Literature, and American Cultural Diplomacy

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8 “Modernism pervades all the arts,” Daniel Bell wrote in 1976. ”9 However fuzzy its definition, modernism in its various forms had by the early 1940s become a dominant taste, particularly among artists and intellectuals, and was gaining a foothold in some of the same conservative cultural institutions—museums, trade publishers, universities, foundations, magazines, and professional organizations—it had originally rebelled against. This development only accelerated in the 1950s. Modernism’s increasing acceptance in the 1950s makes it no less difficult to define it concretely.

Modernist painting was always primarily about painting: cubism called viewers’ attention to the act of representing a three-dimensional world on a two-dimensional substrate, and abstract expressionism took this same concern even further.  . ”26) If Greenberg took the idea of modernism as self-referentiality to its logical extreme, many literary and art theorists of the time agreed that modernist artworks were self-contained artifacts whose meaning was not dependent upon social context, the biography of the artist, or the reception of the reader or perceiver.

Unlike the art program, the book programs remained quite conservative in their artistic tastes and included very little modernism, framing what modernist titles they did feature as representative not only of freedom and individualism, but of America’s regional diversity. Following the influential arguments of Arthur Schlesinger and others, the book programs presented modernism as being congenial to or even constitutive of Cold War liberalism. The chapter concludes by recounting the participation of William Faulkner—Nobel laureate, defender of man’s inherent freedom, but also symbol of Mississippi and Jim 22 INTRODUCTION Crow—in the cultural-diplomacy program as well as the equivocal and cautious way the book programs included and presented his difficult works.

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