American Intervention and Modern Art in South America

American Intervention and Modern Art in South America

by Olga U. Herrera


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SECAC Award for Excellence in Scholarly Research and Publication

In this volume, Olga Herrera tells the story of how the United States used modern art as a cultural defense strategy in South America during World War II. Organized by figures such as Nelson A. Rockefeller, John Hay Whitney, and Lincoln Kirstein as part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s war preparedness program, the Art Section of the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs (CI-AA) linked art and national security. In the process, modern art came to symbolize American values of social progress, peace, and democracy.

The Art Section, a crucial yet rarely acknowledged arm of the CI-AA—a temporary wartime agency—supported traveling exhibitions of American paintings, furniture, and poster design competitions for artists across the Western Hemisphere, as well as widespread distribution of films with South American themes and circulation of Latin American art within the United States. These exchanges of art and ideas were meant to counter negative views of U.S. culture spread by Nazi and totalitarian sympathizers. Modern art became a tool to visually project U.S. culture and was used to unify the hemisphere against Axis influence in a cultural battlefield.

Herrera illustrates how the program was an unprecedented public-private model of support for the arts, a driving force in the emergence of a Latin American art market in the United States, and a foundation for global art networks still in place today.

A volume in the series Latin American and Caribbean Arts and Culture, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813064758
Publisher: University Press of Florida
Publication date: 03/05/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Olga U. Herrera is director of the Washington, D.C., office of the Inter-University Program for Latino Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of Toward the Preservation of a Heritage: Latin American and Latino Art in the Midwestern United States.

Table of Contents

List of Figures ix

List of Plates xiii

List of Tables xvi

Acknowledgments xvii

List of Abbreviations xxi

Introduction 1

1 Art and Democracy Come Together 13

2 Reorienting the Hemisphere: American Modern Art and National Defense 38

3 Art Deployed: Contemporary North American Painting in South America 64

4 ¡Saludos Amigos! Furniture, Posters, Motion Pictures 106

5 Commercial and Cultural Networks: South American Modern Art in the United States 135

6 The Art of Defense / The Defense of Art: Lincoln Kirstein and the Modern Art Acquisition Trip to South America, 1942 168

Aftermath: Modern Art, Cultural Flows, and Global Networks 207

Appendix A Contemporary North American Painting Exhibition, East, West, and North Coast Sections 225

Appendix B List of Books Exhibited at La pintura contemporánea norteamericana 237

Appendix C Lincoln Kirstein's Inter-American Fund Acquisitions in South America 241

Notes 245

Bibliography 293

Index 307

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"An important work that offers a compelling narrative charting the deployment of art within the framework of U.S. and South American relations during an intense historical moment whose aftereffects reverberate to this day."—Alejandro Anreus, author of Luis Cruz Azaceta

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