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tv   Cold War Modernists  CSPAN  October 25, 2015 4:55pm-6:01pm EDT

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have your data breached, it is when is your date of going to be breached. having a federal standard and exercising some prediction, starting a period of time, a framework of time, that companies have to conduct that information, then to inform consumers and set penalties for enforcement, those are appropriate steps that should be taken, and they are the steps that are covered in the data security legislation that we have worked on and energy and commerce committee. >> monday night at 8:00 eastern on "the communicators" on c-span2. >> coming up next on american history tv, greg barnhisel, author of "cold war modernists: art, literature, and american cultural diplomacy." he discusses the rise of
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american modernism and the role it played in the cold war. he argues that in an effort to win over skeptical intellectuals and cultural critics around the institutions in the united states such as the cia and state department promoted thatnism in order to prove they were sophisticated and on the cutting edge. this was posted by new york university. mr. barnhisel: it is particularly special for me to be back here because i received my ba here. it is a real thrill to return here. in fact in many ways my book got its start in this building. grad't mean in the usual student way, where this is where you start your research. to new york university as a pretty naive guy. i had barely been out of oregon.
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i did know anything about new york city. i had resolved to pay my own way in the city without any family help. down a work-study job here in the basement of those library, but i quickly learned that a 10 hour work week wasn't going to pay rent and living expenses. so even in a much cheaper time. jobd to quit my work-study and got a full-time job in publishing at harpercollins. i took classes at night. my professors here were fantastic. i was learning by working in publishing. when i transferred down to the university of texas to do my doctorate, by project centered on publishing related questions that had arisen for me when i was working on 53rd street for rupert murdoch. those questions that i became interested in, which are about how the institution that creates
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and disseminates intermediates our reception of literature and art, how do they do that question mark what is the effect of the mechanisms by which that works? those are the ones i have been interested in in all of my scholarly work, and that is also what this book is about. there is probably no better place in the world to talk about modernism in the arts than new york city. the what is modernism? how many of you are in the english or literature program? anyone? some of you -- the rest of you -- history background? ok. those of you who are steeped in this, forgive me. what is modernism? 's league glass boxes such as the stevens building? -- sleek glass boxes like the stevens building? jackson pollock at the museum of modern art?
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or is it the tales of the 1920's manhattan in the novels of f scott fitzgerald and henry ross? or is it the same to 1913 armory show which you brought the cost so in duchamp -- which brought picasso and duchamp? these are all undeniably modernist. but what is the dna they share? what made their audience recognize them as modernist? modernism didn't even go by that name until loan to the 1950's, earlyke pornography, audiences new modernism when they saw it, even if it had no fixed cultural or political meaning. wildly disparate modernist movements in the arts had little in common besides formal experimentation and a rejection of traditional methods of
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representing reality. but they also shared a rebellion against all existing standards and institutions, and a relentless pursuit of a new state. modernism aw in fundamentally antinomian attitude. irving howe called it an unyielding rage against the existing order, an unrelenting drive to reject, to break down, to toss out all in search of the new. but if modernism wanted to undermine middle-class society it was an utter failure. if anything, modernism came not to bury but to adorn middle-class life, colonizing its houses and its product and its entertainment. from a cause that intended to remake the world, as nathan glazer said in 2007, modernism had become a style. so what happened? how did modernism move from being a cause to a style?
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shede 1950's, modernism and most of the associations of nihilism and rebellion, and eventually would use in support of its original enemy western middle-class values. even as a retained dissociation with innovation, modernism also became, came to be presented as a pro-freedom, probe for joao movement, evident -- pro-for bourgeois movement. we can think about museums, the theater world, others. but cold war imperatives accelerated this development. in fact, modernism became a weapon in the so-called cultural the struggle for prestige and influence between the soviet union and its
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satellites on one side, in the nations of western europe on the other. its battles ranged from heated exchanges at international conferences to dueling theatrical productions to competing literary and cultural offers. a key prize of the war, particularly in the 1950's, were the sympathies of influential leftist intellectuals, who reviled what they saw as shallow business culture and "coca-colonization." but they were also leery of stalinist dictatorship, especially after the revolution. statesonse, united diplomats offered modernism in painting in literature and architecture in music as evidence of the high cultural achievements of the united states. both government and private organizations argued that the very anti-traditionalism that
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had once made modernist art and literature so threatening proved that western culture was superior to the culture being forged in soviet union and its analyte nations. i call please 1940's and 1950's program that use modernism for pro-western propaganda, as well as the politically driven reinterpretation of modernism, cold war modernism. it is not the art itself, it is the program that disseminated, and the intellectual framework that taught people how to reread what modernism meant. modernism extended across the arts and the reframing took place and magazines, in touring exhibitions and shows, in books, on film, in the radio. today i will talk primarily about cold war modernism's official governmental mandate, and the private groups and people, like publisher james laughlin, the museum of modern art, its president nelson
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rockefeller. the father of neoconservatism, irving kristol. even william casey, a veteran of the oss london office, who after many years in the business world became the cia director. they were all unified, and these were all different people with different approaches to the world, but they were unified by the consensus around liberal anti-communism, the political stance best expressed in "the vital centrist." high-minded artists and writers into government bureaucrats and business executives say they didn't need to discuss what they believe. liberal anti-communism was the very water in which they slam. -- they swam. the official cold war modernist project didn't start well.
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in 1946 the department of state hired leroy davidson, the former curator of the walker art center in minneapolis, and i was just andhe walker this summer, that is still there looking the same way. davidson to amass a collection of american arts they would circulate around european capitals. bypurchased 79 oil paintings jack levine, then shone, -- ben shawn, all modernist artists. they were an abstract expressionist but they were painting in abstract form. of these artists agreed to sell their paintings to the state department at a discount. forgia o'keeffe sold two $1000 even though the going rate was $10,000 per piece. the paintings cost them $49,000 in total, which is a pretty good
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deal for 72 oil paintings. the idea was to prove to european intellectuals that contrary to their predecessors, the united states did have advanced culture and the sophisticated art scene, that american freedom and individualism were the very soil in which such innovative our group. wew. we were just chewing gum and cowboy movies. ismany countries overseas it a common misconception that our artists are second raters who have no creative individualism, a sentiment william benton explained in a response to a congressional critic. this exhibit illustrates the freedom with which our american artists work. one of the things i and doing -- i look through these government documents and memos and statements to congress. individualism, as a way to differentiate us from
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socialist realism in the soviet union. in addition, the exhibition stressedor this show the melting pot image of american culture, calling attention to the fact that many of the artist'ts included were immigrants whose creative expressions flowered under american freedom. the state department had not anticipated the fact that a lot of americans were not all that fond of modernism. the hearst papers started the attack. the february, 1947 magazine entitled "your money bought these," brought the show to the notice of a broad public. marshallor told george that the paintings were a travesty. a conservative art group questioned the cultural value of any exhibition which is so
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strongly marked with the radicalism of the new trend of european art, which are not indigenous to our soil. the nativism happening from these artists is interesting, given -- it's really interesting. one artist said, "these paintings were not american at the aliend in cultures, ideals, philosophies, and sicknesses of europe." among these philosophies and sicknesses of course is communism. the popular outcry began to sway the establishment. in public, they give a qualified defense. but internally they complained that davidson should have known enough to buy pictures of several types so there would be some that would appeal to everybody. finally, the administration disowned the show and president truman made a snide remark about that painting, adding that there was no art at all in connection with the modernists. it was not only snide about
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, but racist. not only the show itself but the very infrastructure that have been created to use american modernist art as propaganda fell apart. the art specialist was eliminated, the paintings were sold off as war surplus at a 90% discount. theyulk of the works -- reassembled the show in 2013 and sent it on tour. it is a very interesting -- i think it is at auburn right now. the state ritually infuriated the cultural establishment. the art world insisted that modernism was neither communistic nor fundamentalist. "we reject the assumption that are witches aesthetically innovation must be socially or politically subversive." and 1950's debut that was jointly offered by officials at
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to boston institute of contemporary art. alfred barr, the main curator of the median of modern art, wrote in 1953 that modern i was characterized most by a love of freedom, and thus could be in no way communist. nelsonnefactor rockefeller called it "free enterprise painting." rockefeller may have been stretching but he wasn't entirely wrong. the state department had noted that works by some of the artists included in this show were in corporate collections such as those of ibm, pepsi-cola. corporate use of modernism predated the 1940's. walter peck's container corporation of america used very there is a really good website that has collected
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all of these container corporation of america ads and some of them are really great. they went on to fund the aspen forival, a summer camp the hyper elite. had also organized to other shows that highlighted modernist artwork held the collection of american corporations and industrialist. these shows are that illustrate the same values of freedom individualism, creating a great art scene, that american business and corporate capitalism were not inherently filthy. theually over the course of 1950's, modernist art crept back into our cultural diplomacy, often in disguise. in 1951, in steel occupied itlin, the state department its role in organizing a show there. the head ofcture of
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the american occupation force looking skeptically at a painting. the election of dwight eisenhower, usually seen as being far from intellectual, whose campaign has derided the competitor as an egghead, really derided the program. he created the united states information agency in 1953 to coordinate information and cultural programs handled by the department state. these grew gradually braver. sport in art, a show jointly sponsored by the usia and "sports illustrated," was meant to complement the melbourne olympics. they previewed in dallas in 1955. dallas is a highly conservative city and has been, an od choice to preview a modernist showd.
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a conservative local group objected to the inclusion of leftist artists, and to the nonrepresentational work. usia director theodore strieber backpedaled and demand that they be removed. however, this time he ignored the complaints about the artwork. that was different about this episode from the previous was that it was no longer the modernism that was the problem, it was now the modernist. this is just post-mccarthy. no longer was modernist techniques such as abstraction or distortion or nonrepresentational-ism in itself a reason to pull a work. further in this episode, liberals anin congress attacked the usia for conservatism. even eisenhower talked about how freedom of the arts is a sick asic freedom.
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he really emphasized freedom in the arts. the anti-modernist position weakened. and government-sponsored shows that the rest of the 1950's it strengthened. the brussels world fair was held a modernist building. far forto bit eisenhower who granted that "there is a place for the modernistic school but the world fair is not the right venue to teach the public of europe." but instead of demanding changes, as truman had, he allowed the show to go on as designed. , ans also interesting amateur painter.
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finally, the 1959 american national exposition in moscow, most famous for being the site of the kitchen debate, provided the venue of a show for 48 young american painters, including those who had caused the most trouble over the last 12 years. zorak, john levine. one man asserted that the show included 22 artists with affiliation in the communist party. the american artist professional league pointed to the lamentable, dreary, technically trivial array of paintings. but, as has been increasingly the case throughout the 1950's, influential voices and culture and government spoke up in support. score in art,5 the usia did not demand prior
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approval and in the end refused to withdraw the show. so in the our program, modernism went from being a parent in taste,to being an elite the art wets being use to tell the soviet people who we were as a culture. there was an interesting article in "the atlantic monthly" right after the show premiered by the show,o curator the the way the soviet people would come in and say they were terrible, then come back again and again and ask more questions. they knew they were supposed to express discussed with them because that was the line but they were interested in what was going on,. things worked a little differently it another program, which became an urgent priority as the cold war began. the soviets had long exported
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their ideas through subsidized have, and by 1950, produced and distributed over 40 million books abroad, mostly "a short history of the communist party." was years later the ussr producing 40 million books a year. 1952, the psychological strategy board, associated with the cia, warned that the largest selling book in the world with the possible exception of the bible has been "a short history of the communist party." during the cold war, the united states made books available to foreign audiences. at libraries abroad, through market-based export initiative, and through to government directed project to translate and sell american books. there were several ways of giving books to audiences abroad. somewhere obvious, -- some were
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obvious. a bunch of ways. the intended audience for the program was decidedly the intellectual elite, judged by the program's directors to be an --initely better target, included in these programs counter the charge that the united states is a cultural show them as a well-meaning liberal democracy whose institutions insured a mature path despite whatever shortcomings it might exhibit. of all the branches of the cold war modernist programs, this was by far the most conservative in the most tentative in how it used modernism. the generally conservative attitude toward american modernism makes it particularly striking that the modernist
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author who played the biggest part, and in fact contribute more to the cultural diplomacy program than any other, william faulkner. has works are notoriously difficult, and they highlight the one topic that the united states most wanted to avoid -- the racial situation in the south. faulkner's eloquent 1915 nobel prize address melded with truman's campaign of truth message, arguing that the soviets were the greatest threat to peace in the world and that only the humanistic values of free people could stave off the threat of destruction hanging over the earth. falconers prestige abroad, particularly among foreign writers, made him a very powerful cultural ambassador. in 1950, his reputation was just starting to get better. falconer" was published in 1956, saying that all these novels are one world.
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it was important and rebuilding his reputation because he was notorious for being a dirty books writer. wascode in hollywood imposed because of a falconer novel. -- a faulkner novel. he didn't even want to collect his nobel prize. he would travel abroad frequently on behalf of the usia. i really do like this story. when he was told he got the nobel prize, he said that is wonderful. they said will you come to accept the prize? the farm won't take care of itself. they had to have the swedish ambassador call him a couple times. he's like, no, we have work to do. finally they had to get a woman, who someone needs to write a biography of, a state department staffer who was a real pioneer and cultural diplomacy, also
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married to the governor of puerto rico, and her great-grandfather served with his in a war. he said ok. if you had better in the roanoke, in oxford, mississippi, it is not a farm -- it is in the middle of town. like he had 500 acres. his first such trip was to sao paulo. in keeping with the state department's generally conservative approach to literature, the publicity material circulated to the as ac framed falconeulkner not modernist but as a realist. sent over his nonfiction books about mississippi history and the new river country. knowing that the brazilian public would be focused on race,
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the department included the transcript of a voice of america discussion of his story "the ellison andn ralph irving howe. "this is a particularly important item since ellison, speaking as a negro novelist, held what he considers it a central story." weekend can be a racist because the black i like sam. -- the black guy likes him. a few weeks later, he returned home by a europe. his responses in press conferences delighted the united states information agency. in all of his discussions and internal reports, he unflinchingly answered questions on his work, style, philosophy, american life. on two occasions he hit hard against communism, socialism, and any form of radicalism, defending democracy as the best system yet devised by man.
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usia even made a movie about his japan trip, which isn't available on youtube. marylandppen to be in and go to the national archives, you can watch it. it's really interesting. they would show it across japan. end, -- sorry. that is a picture of him giving a press conference in paris in 1955. he came home via a europe from japan, and right when he got to rome, the and it till murder happened. emmitt till murder happened. in made news right away. it really went to national news. they had a press conference -- what do you think of it, 50
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miles from your hometown? he said what they wanted him to say, a terrible crime, an awful thing. end, his trels on behalf of the usia did much to advance the cold war modernist project to prove to leftist intellectual lists that experimental modernism was in a rejection but rather legitimize the success of western liberal democracy and individualism. furthermore, his involvement in particular help the project of bolstering u.s. cultural prestige transition easily from to thetial target audience that became increasingly important in the 1960's, writers and cultural elites in the decolonizing nations in the middle east and east asia. american modernist writers and performers helped legitimize all
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american culture abroad, to the degree that in the early 1960's, one usia program officer pointed eagerness with which foreign readers seize upon the books of william faulkner and hemingway. "whoglish critic asks reason american book?" the primary audience for these modernist programs were intellectuals and opinion makers, that you as cultural diplomats knew they had to reach a broader audience. to do this they use the most powerful medium of the time, radio. one insisted that radio is the principal medium for the conduct of the cold war, bearing the entire burden of psychological warfare behind the iron curtain. he was broadcast around the world and local like and featured relatively little butrage of art and culture, precisely because it was aimed at such a broad audience and
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conveyed a highly american middle route sensibility about , we can seerature it as the institution that closed the deal on cold war modernism, that confirmed that once threatening modernism had become the style of the american bourgeoisie, and could be exported to the rest of the world as such. writers,es artists, the voice of america increasingly over the 50's sounded the seams of cold war modernism. it did so moreover truly as a voice of america. it was the official spokes network of the united states government, and it expressed in the style and voice of american commercial broadcast journalism. like whatch sounded you heard on the radio, the same style. as mission was to provide
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free -- it was differentiated by other private radio operations that were intended very much to be propagandist, and frankly so. this was supposed to be the bbc, a straight presentation. they saw the bbc as a model and sought to convey an even tone and the balanced presentation of the news so audiences would not dismiss it as propaganda, which would have been likely. earnednhanded coverage the hostility of some legislators. becom the prevailing ethos was to avoid similar propaganda while being propaganda. during the truman administration, they covered art only minimally but echo the arguments of ethnic diversity, and then modernism was fundamentally international.
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a report in the 1952 pittsburgh international expedition stressed that the u.s. is so much a melting pot that the exhibition shows, especially in abstract phase, are not national but universal. it could even be belittling at times, as in the 1951 discussion on regionalism between howard gibbs, vernon smith -- the artists described as these three better american modernists praise the regionalist tradition and concluded by -- those painters, the announcer reassures the audience, are much more orderly and rational then the layman gives them credit for being. implicit in his attitude is that thatersistent prejudice they are unpredictable wild eyed bohemians, with the disingenuous reassurance that some aren't.
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in keeping with eisenhower's desire to use it to provide a rounded portrait of american culture, coverage of all the arts increased. reported to congress in 1958 that the agency's placing more emphasis on the broad field of american culture in embracing art and music. thus the new programming had to be careful not to be too avant-garde. unlike the ones and that cultural elite, this had to appeal to a broad audience in each target nation. intellectuals and elites, but also a popular audience, who preferred portraits of daily life. the scripts focused more on the role of the art in cultural life and not the work of a particular artist. and of course painting doesn't make good radio.
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such a show made subtle arguments that the arts arrived in the united states, contrary to others and were accessible and popular and sparked wide discussions. the idea that the individual is the ultimate source of creativity permeates the cold war modernist project. in a forum on the visual arts in midcentury america, bartlett hayes insists that the individual is the building block of american democratic society. lloyd goodrich writes that it is more individualistic. the artist has a new freedom of expression, has gained a new creative role, in equivocal to a music composer or public. this pluralistic art is the appropriate expression of a democratic society, free and fluid.
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rarely brought up explicitly but always alluded to is socialist realism, and the idea, which was largely correct, that artists and writers in the eastern blocks were prescribed not only content but how to paint, write, composed. their treatment of lean faulkner deserves particular attention. they pretrade him primarily as a humanist and regionalist. was, however it had become increasingly clear by the 1940's that his importance to modernism was second only to james joyce, and although he was "almost magnetically drawn to the disagreeable, violent, the distorted," his works were fundamentally moral, deeply rooted in the work of the individual.
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although it treated modernism respectfully, they save its highest praise for works that strutted modernism. "jb?" ever heard of retelling -- it is largely forgotten today and really produced, but they ran a breathless feature on it in 1958, asking whether it was a modern classic. this is another one of these --ple writing the modernist he becomes the first assistant secretary of state republican, he is working on all sides of this. earned his own profile in january, 1958 coinciding with the television these features-
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epitomize the assimilation of modernization into the mainstream. while not downplaying, in fact emphasizing, unconventional features such as diverse dialogue and the meta-theatricality of "our town." there reassures listeners that these are not works of radical messages. quite the contrary, the message of "jb" is the triumph of humanism. a while wilder profile insists repeatedly that his works are universal, that he possesses a deep knowledge of mankind. they also went to prominent modernist writers and ask them to compose an essay about their hometown, because they thought it would be local color. one was about paterson, new jersey, one about brooklyn. they asked william faulkner to do it but he wouldn't. that side of literature in painting, they tended to profile artists who had fundamentally change the contours of their
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artform, often through modernistic formal technique and stubborn devotion to an individual vision. refuting the idea that popular acclaim is the only reward they alsortists seek, point the difficulty of their subject's work and the criticism they endure. several stories on friend would write emphasized his prickly iness, and one even criticizes the building. lost her desire to be the virtuoso of the contemporary repertoire and forged a new dance that is not always pleasant for the spectator. ismissedrs doe calder. pessimistic,l is and stockman's photographs don't shy away from ugliness. but each of these artists have
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followed their muses and made challenging art of enduring value. taken as a whole, these profiles depict american artists as individualists, innovators who have not withered under critical and popular tax, and this places them squarely in the realm of salsa presentation. -- of self representation. there wasn't just a governmental thing, it was a partnership. nelsonf them, like rockefeller, bridged that divide. the congress for cultural freedom is probably the most involved in the cultural diplomacy and i suspect everyone knows at least the broad outline of the story. created largely by the cia and
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the information research department, a covert agency in britain, they brought together european intellectuals, many of them former communists, to promote cultural freedom and modernist art. this is a photograph of the initial congress held in berlin in 1950. the congress was hugely influential, until it imploded when the cia routes were exposed in 1966 and much of its membership fled. i am less interested in that andct of the congress -- how it used modernism in one of its projects, the english language magazine "encounter." edited by stephen spender and the not yet neoconservative irving kristol, it became a leading cultural magazine in britain. its mission was to be
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anti-communist and not vulg ar. the mark of t.s. eliot is everywhere in the journal, mostly as an untouchable emblem. -- call him ar sycophant, he saw him as a father figure. you would think that modernism was just a series of monuments ofated by greats, not movement that care about a revolutionary fervor, and that was still often seen as subversive and dangerous. but if spender and kristol mourned the death of modernism, a powe another celebrated it. friendocklin asked his robert hutchins for $200,000 to
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start a magazine that would show the europeans just how advanced american art and literature have become. perspective usa led its first faulkner.n william is not aine particularly interesting magazine and it only has 16 issues. they reprinted previously published materials from "the "theorker" and" the a atlantic." almost 20 years before, he is mostly known as the guy who the most important literary publisher out there.
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taking his magazine and showing it off. almost 20 years before, he had been motivated to go to publishing by his conviction that writers could change consciousness and therefore the world. his mentor in this was ezra pound, and although she never signed onto his anti-semitism, he was for a long time a firm adherent to social credit economic theories. locklin had seen radical social and political reviewers one of the purposes of modernist literature. in perspective, any sociopolitical content or even in tent -- it is nothing but a collection of artistic styles, techniques practices. cause to aent from a style.
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granted such innovation could never have taken place under communism, but unlike "encounter," they never made the argument explicit. the implicit argument is that the united states had advanced art and literature to the equal of europe, and as the skeptical european leftists -- if the the nonprofit that consisted entirely of perspective brought together on its board of directors the words of literature, publishing, foundations, -- and william j hastings. he was a die hard cold warrior
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and working-class catholic from long island who had served in the oss during the war and eventually begin the cia director. casey, who had known him before this time, was representing the cia when he was advising the startup but it isn't clear to me. his biographer denied it but i am not so certain. at this time, the line between the ford foundation, the oss, this eia, and the state department were pretty blurry. my best guess is that milton taft, another director of the ford foundation, had suggested that he be included on the board as a condition of funding. he had been brought to ford foundation on the recommendation of his director paul hoffman. don't worry about keeping all this straight. my point is just that these networks were dense, if only because of the world of east coast power workers.
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none of them are traditional wasp establishment arianism. this is a picture of them meeting with henry ford, who was unhappy with a lot of the things they started doing when they got that huge amount of money in the 1950's. where locklin saw the showcase asked that a size, casey, a practical man but also the most concern himselfges with however trade middle-class america. the came into contact over essay "america the beautiful," which denigrated the middle-class culture in the most new york intellectual fashion imaginable. key was incensed and want to the article cold.
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when he refused, they suggested instead something by peter drucker to emphasize the positives of capitalism, which they did. a magazine run by an avant-garde modern publisher trying to show what is most cutting edge about american art runs an article by peter drucker. in may no compromise of the public taste. modernism had made its peace with the porsche was the -- with the borscht waurgoisie. they had overwhelmingly rejected stalinism and socialist realist art had little appeal. new york was the center of artistry. the battlegrounds move south and east to latin america. modernist styles once seen as jarring and foreign, had
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become mainstream. mainstream literature, film, even consumer products. like so many radical artistic since,ts before it and have moved from the ramparts to the museum and the account executives of madison avenue. but in that journey it may have also helped the united states when the cold war. thank you. [applause] mr. barnhisel: any questions? >> [indiscernible]
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mr. barnhisel: that's a good question. france was the real target here. they had the most influential intellectuals and many of them were communist. modernist art had been acceptable, had been mainstream, in france in particular, earlier than in the united states. there was no love in western europe for socialist realism. nobody was clamoring for the works of -- daily when i can olokov.f is show loo hhe eventually got a nobel pri. e. no one was looking for that kind of art and literature. it wasn't competing against it that much -- the idea was simply that there is no way the americans can be producing
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anything that is the equivalent -- there was a time period in the 50's with two nobel prizes pasternak, aunto battlefield of the cultural cold war. either note that answers your question. -- i don't know if that answers your question. >> have you ever come across modernist ballet? you talk about martha graham and the modern dancer. but say the works of george balanchine? mr. barnhisel: i have to admit that my understanding of dance
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is so minimal, i wouldn't trust myself to even start talking about what would make it modernist. i am aware of the fact that some people say that balanchine -- i couldn't start talking about how it was used. graham was sent on diplomatic tours of europe, even over to the soviet union, as well as more traditional, more conservative companies. particularly in the 1950's, we sent a lot of arts groups over --re with modernist people there was a great book about jazz players like armstrong and brubeck and ellington, but also gillespie. i wish i could talk more about that. don't trust myself. yeah.
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>> were the europeans also using this whole idea of modernism as an attack against the soviet union communism? mr. barnhisel: they weren't using it aggressively governmentally, but it was very much -- particularly in this the a-- it was very much priority of everything they were doing. we in the west have is modernist art, that it is more valuable, more interesting, more original, and originality is crucial. they have this socialist realism, which we won't even talk about. so they organized arts , including
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--oenburg, faulkner, o'neill this is the kind of art that the west produces. both americans and europeans are doing this. soviets, they didn't keep their mouth shut -- which i find interesting. they had a cultural diplomatic agency, voks. similar to our usia but much more focus on culture. they had an english language magazine that they circulated in the united states and western europe, where they had these long theoretical articles about the basis of socialist realism and why modernism was a sign of decadence. they weren't letting these attacks go unanswered, and they really do defend them.
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i don't accept the argument that there is an intellectual framework for why socialist realism is the right kind of art for building the soviet man. >> you mentioned france's for an embrace of american modernism, a culturally mature, viable mode of artistic expression. but to what extent was it important to win over the germans? the country is still occupied. they have tremendous resources. there was a great deal of thought given to shaping postwar german culture. theykind of a factor where in the ongoing debates, or did it just not matter because we were keeping the russians out? mr. barnhisel: that's a really
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good question, and i have wondered that. they were going to be so important. the main answer is that german intellectuals were discredited. what do we care what they think? what were you doing in 1935? that.s my answer to i think the occupation has something to do with it. i think the germans were, they were mostly busy rebuilding. but i do think that unlike sartre, who was first in the minds of who we were trying to haduence, and tony jute, just a fantastic book on french intellectuals, and also why they were so important and why they help such sway.
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my think my guess would be because no one would take german intellectuals seriously. >> you did a nice job of showing us how the state department and others used modernism to advance an argument about american civilization. the cold war changed modernism -- modernism predates the cold war, so to what extent did the --d war altar in any way past change because of the fact that the strategic military international environment changed around it? mr. barnhisel: that's actually probably my fundamental it made it safe. it avoided it of conflict and critique. it made its style and gesture.
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i think it is particularly true in literature. we see this especially in "encounter," where they are so convinced that the great works of the modernists and cannot be reproduced. they look at the poets and the writers out there at that time and they say, they scoff and sneer. john osborne, thom gunn. you don't have anything to offer. sepulcher, in some sense. but what he is doing, constantly turning it into pure style. those of you who are literary scholars are familiar with the idea the strain of literary critical file called new criticism, which says we should only evaluate works of art by their formal features -- ignore
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the political beliefs in the context. of my first book was all about how james locklin did that. he did that with ezra pound. the way one i think that his magazine does that across the arts, whereas i really do believe that modernism started out as politically radical, trying to transform society in the 1950's. not to get too theoretical but --t is one of the things what modernism is all about. >> [indiscernible]
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i will -- your argument about how american cold war modernists created institutions to mediate american modernism to an international audience is compelling. i wonder if also there were efforts by the same folks to use existingtwo european institutions to also convey that same message, and what was the relationship the tween these same groups of actors that you are telling us and european universities or museums or other extent
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organizations that were already performing such functions? mr. barnhisel: i wish i could give you a long and detailed answer. that is the next question. i have two more questions out of this and that is one of them. had gotten to know the american institutions from publishing in magazines, but one of the things i have learned is that from nation to nation not only are the individual institutions but relationships -- that is onet, of the things that made "encounter" interesting, because d, and british anime they did want to replicate the american model because they had a completely different way of placing value and culture. that is a fantastic question that i can't answer.
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that his work i want to see done. the other question that has come up to me, and i was discussing this with good share of english at carnegie mellon, she is writing about how the eastern european intellectuals and artists were handling this. uniond they negotiate the of soviet writers? one of the codes by which they are trying to engage and experiment with techniques without being detected? that is the next thing -- when whennt these books over, we had covertly published american books in belgrade by paying publishers to make them -- howke other books did readers understand? how did readers respond?
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i think that is something that we need to know. i don't have the language, and that is one of the reasons in this field of study i cross between cold war history and book history. book historians are really interested in how do we talk about the way people read and understand literature, and how that determine what it means. most of us are french, german, and english speaking. we don't have access to these languages and i would be interested in 1955 in 1956, the first two publications of faulkner. i would love to know how were people reading him? there was a critical article that said he is decadent and modernist but he does interesting things because he talks about class. there was a prescribed way of understanding why it he is ok but he became very popular. the iron curtain
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knew would be your response to a froth matter. question --er your i wish i could. you are hating on exactly where we need to go to understand how to these different cultures and different nations respond. thanks. another question? thank you all. i really appreciate your attention and appreciate you coming out. [applause] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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