Skip to main content

tv   Cold War Modernists  CSPAN  October 31, 2015 8:55am-10:01am EDT

8:55 am
a dollars $.95 plus shipping. get your copy today at cases. -- a dollars $.95 plus shipping. >> coming up nest on american barnhiselv, greg barnhart i discusses the rise of 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 world, institutions in the united states such as the cia and state department promoted proveism in an effort to that american art and literature were sisters -- sophisticated and on the cutting edge. this hour-long illustrator talk was hosted by new york university. >> it is particularly special for me to be back here because i received my ma here at nyu back
8:56 am
in 1995. it is a thrill to return here. in many ways, my book actually got its start in this building. i don't way -- don't mean in the usual grad student labor this is where he started doing research. iname to new york university 1993 as a naive guy. i have barely been out of oregon. i didn't know anything about new york city. i had resolved to pay my own way in the city without any family help. i got a work-study job in the reserve room in the basement. i quickly learned that a 10 hour does wasn'tjob what going to pay living expenses in new york city. even at a cheaper time, it wasn't cheap. i had to quit my work-study job and got a full time job in publishing at harpercollins. i took classes at night. hereofit -- professors
8:57 am
were fantastic. when i was learning by working in publishing was even more listening -- interesting. when i transferred to the university of texas to do my doctorate, my 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 and disseminates and mediates a reception of literature and art -- how do they do that? what is the effect? what is the mechanism by which that works? those are the questions i have been interested in in all of my scholarly work your that is what this book is about. betters probably no place in the world to talk about modernism in the arts than new york city. what is modernism? how many of you -- those of you who are nyu students, how many of you are in the english or literature programs?
8:58 am
some of you -- the rest of your history background, cold war studies? those of you who are steeped in this, forgive me. what is modernism? is it a sleek glass box such as the seagram's building on park avenue? abstract expressionist paintings like autumn rhythm? at the museum of modern art? or is it the tales of 1920's manhattan in the novels of escott pfister of and henry ross -- f scott fitzgerald? picasso the kosovo -- and many others to lexington avenue? these are all undeniably modernist. what is the dna that they share? what makes and made audiences recognize them as modernists? namenism didn't go by that
8:59 am
until well into the 50's. pornography,rt's early 20th century audiences new modernism when they side, even if he didn't have a fixed cultural or political meaning. the widely disparate modernist movement and little in common beside formal extremities and the rejection of formal methods of the present in reality. they also shared a rebellion against all existing standards and institutions and a relentless pursuit of the new for its own sake. audiences saw in modernism a fundamentally antinomian attitude. irving howell called it an unyielding rage against the existing order. and unrelenting drive to reject, breakdown, top out in search of a new. if modernism wanted to undermine it middle caste society --
9:00 am
middle-class society, it was a failure. if anything, it came not to bury but to adorn no class life, colonizing its houses and products and entertainment. from a modernism has become a style. what happened? edit modernism move from being a cause to a style? -- how do modernism move from being a cause to a style? it retained its association with innovation and the drive for the new, modernism also became and came to be ,resented as a pro-freedom m movement.
9:01 am
we can think about the publishing industry, mass media, arts and cultural foundation, museums, the theater world, and others. the cold war imperative accelerated this development. in fact, modernism became a weapon in the so-called "cultural cold war." if battles ranged from heated exchanges from international conferences todueling theatrical productions. war for theof this sympathies of influential western european leftist intellectuals which reviled the u.s. shallow, dominated culture. very of stalinist
9:02 am
dictatorship and military and is military and is was suggested as -- it proved that western culture was superior to the culture being forced in the soviet union. i call these 1940's and 1950's program huge modernism and propaganda and reinterpretation of modernism itself. itself,t the actual art it is the program that disseminated it in the intellectual framework and taught people how to reread what modernism really meant.
9:03 am
and itnded across arts took place in magazines, touring exhibitions, film, and radio. today, i am want to talk about cold war modernism and governmental manifestations and for private groups and people ,ike publisher james lackland the museum of modern art and its director and its president nelson rockefeller. the father of medium .onservatism they were all unified, and they were all different people, but they were unified by the consensus around anti-communism.
9:04 am
-- writers and government bureaucrats and business executives, they did not need to discuss with a belief. liberal anti-communism was a based plan. the official cold war modernist project did not start out all that well. state6, the department of , if youroy davidson , that very same latrine is still there looking the same way. [laughter] it is a wonderful art museum. they hired david sent to amass a collection of art they would circulate around european capital. he purchased 79 oil paintings from painters such as jack
9:05 am
levine, author dean, modernist painting iny were abstracted form. several of these artists agree to sell their paintings at a discount. two for $1000 even though her paintings were worth $10,000 apiece. it was a pretty good deal. the idea was to prove to european intellectuals that, contrary to their prejudices, the united dates have advanced culture and a sophisticated art scene, and american individualism was the soil in which innovative art group. we were not just chewing gum in cowboy movies. in many country overseas -- in overseas, it is a misconception that our artists
9:06 am
have no individualism. this exhibit that davidson put together, illustrate the freedom in which our american artists exhibited. andt together these memos , it was ato congress way to differentiate them. in addition, the exhibition stressedor this show the melting pot image of american culture, calling to the attention that many of the artists 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 fond of modernism. attack,r started the
9:07 am
brought the show to the notice of congress. they were considered a travesty upon art. they questioned the cultural value of any exhibition that was so strongly marked with the modernism of european art not native to our soil. ridiculed said it, these paintings were not american at all, but they were booted in the alien culture's sicknesses of your. . it began to sway the diplomatic establishment.
9:08 am
internally, he complained to davidson -- that davidson should have brought several types that would appeal to everybody. president truman made a snide remark about a painting and no merit atthere is all to modernism. it was not only snide, but racist. davidson's are specialist position was eliminated and the paintings were sold off at a 90% discounts. by there purchased university of oklahoma, and they are there now. it as they had, they are still there now.
9:09 am
i think it is up in auburn right now. infuriated the cultural establishments. the art world insisted modernism was either communistic or fundamentally foreign. we reject the assumption that art must be socially or subversive, or un-american. barr, the main curator of the museum of modern art, wrote in 1953, that modern art was characterized as a "love of freedom." and could be in no way un-american. rockefeller may have been stretching, but he was not entirely wrong.
9:10 am
some of the art were present in corporate collections such as ibm, pepsi-cola, etc. it predated the 1940's. container corporation of america from 1937 used very challenging modernist art in his magazine articles. really great website that has collected all of these ads and some of them are really great. ftse 100 on to find the aspen festival, which is like a summer camp. -- pepsi went on to find the aspen festival, which is like a summer camp. of freedomeas individualism for creating a great art scene and that american businesses were not
9:11 am
inherently guilty. modernist art crept back into our cultural diplomacy often in the sky. the 1951 in still occupied -- this is a picture of the guy head of the main occupation force. the election of dwight , who his usually seen as being far from an intellectual, really accelerated the cold war modernist program. eisenhower convened high-level task forces on cultural diplomacy from the time he went into office. he created the united states information agency in 1953 to: coordinate program settled by the state. braver over grew
9:12 am
the years. it was meant to complement the melbourne olympics. it previewed in dallas in 1955. if you know anything about dallas, it is a highly conservative city. it was an odd choice to preview modernist art. a local group objected to the inclusion of artist and nonrepresentational work. he ignored the complaints about the artwork. what is different about this episode than the previous one, it wasn't modernism that was a problem, it was the modernists. technique such as extraction, distortion, in
9:13 am
itself, a reason to pull work. congress got up to attack the u.s. for its conservatism. freedom of theut arts is one of the pillars in our land. it was very telling that he gave a speech at the 25th anniversary of modern art where he really emphasized enough of the arts being key american values. in government-sponsored shows throughout the rest of the d's -- 1950, this trend continued. ae world fair was held in modernist building. it went a bit far for eisenhower who said "there is a place for
9:14 am
the modernist school, but the fair is probably not the best place. " changes, heemanding allowed the show to go on as originally designed. eisenhower was an amateur painter. the 1959 american exposition in moscow provided that the new for a show of 48 young american painters including many of the names that had caused most of the trouble for the arts program over the last 12 years. everybody involved played their assigned parts. pennsylvania representative asserted that the show included 22 artist involved with the communist movement.
9:15 am
technicaled to the driven array in the exhibition. has been the case throughout the 50's, they spoke of in support of the show. unlike 9055 sport and art, they did not demand prior approval and in the end, refused to reverse the show. modernism went from being eliteent in 1946 to be with the modernist and the tell the soviet people who we were as a culture. there was an interesting article in the atlantic monthly quit after the show premiered by the man who curated the show talking about how the soviet people
9:16 am
would come back and ask questions again and again. they were actually really interested in what was going on. things worked a little differently in the books program , which became an urgent program at the cold war began. the soviets had exported their ideas through subsequent books. by the 1950's, they had distributed over 40 million books abroad. four years later, they were producing 40 million books a year in free world like witches. .n 1952, th during the cold war, the united states made books available to warn audience is in most ways.
9:17 am
taste exportket initiative called the informational meeting guarantee program and then through a government directed program to publish american books in foreign markets. they had several ways of getting books to audiences abroad. the intended audience was decidedly the intellectual elite that was judged by the directors to be an important target because " new thoughts cannot be brought to the masses without the elite. ." they counter the charge that the u.s. was a cultural wasteland.
9:18 am
of all the branches above cold war modernist program, the program was the most conservative than the most tentative and how it used modernism. attitude totive american modernism made it particularly striking that the author play the biggest part, and in fact contributed to the program, was william faulkner. is a tour is a difficult and highlight the one topic that the united states information agency most wanted to avoid -- the racial situation in the south. address belted nailed it with his address. stave few people could
9:19 am
off the threat of destruction. abroad among foreign writers made him a very powerful, cultural ambassador. 1950, his reputation was just starting to get better. one of the books said that all of these novels are one world and it was really important in rebuilding faulkner' tatian. reputation. reluctant atas first and didn't want to go to stockholm to collect his nobel prize. here is a picture of him getting on the plane. he would travel abroad recurrently. -- he would travel abroad frequently. when he told he got the nobel
9:20 am
prize, he said, that is wonderful. they wanted him to come to stockholm to collect his prize, he said, the farm will not take care of itself or it we got work to do down here. womany, they had to get a -- she was a state department to the and married governor of puerto rico, and her great grand pappy served in the civil war together, and she went. if you have ever been to roanoke in oxford, mississippi, there is a little bit of land, it is not a fun, it is in the middle of town. it sounds and he had about 500 acres. trip was for the international writers conference.
9:21 am
-- the publicity circulated to the public affairs office. they also sent over two public affairs officers. knowing the brazilian public would be focused on the interest in rape, they included a transcript of all caps off story bear" and the notes about how you should use it. it is an important item sense negron, speaking as a novelist, spoke to the worst of the work. so he can't be a racist because the black guy like him. in pressnses
9:22 am
conferences delighted the united states information agency. in all of his discussions, the on -- he unflinchingly answered questions about his style, work, and american life. about radicalism and defending democracy is the best system devised by man. si even made a movie about faulkner's japan trip. if you go to the national archives, you can watch it if you know how to threat an old movie. it is really interesting. they would show it across japan after he left. faulkner's travels were not over. that is a picture of him getting a press conference in paris in 1955.
9:23 am
home from japan, he got to rome, the till murder happened. it was really international news. he was giving a press conference and they asked him what you think? it happened 50 miles from your hometown. he said what they wanted him to say which is, it is a terrible crime. faulkner's travels prove that the u.s. had produced legitimate cultural achievement and that modernism was not a rejection, but fmi it success of leftist liberal democracy. his involvement helped the
9:24 am
project to bolster prestige and from one audience to an important audience in the 1960's of latin america, the middle east, and east asia. in fact, american modernist writers, artists, and performers help legitimize culture abroad degree that one officer pointed out the audiences.f foreign audiencescold war were opinion makers, diplomats knew they had to reach a broader audience. to do this, they used the most powerful media of the time -- radio.
9:25 am
insisted that radio was the principal media of the common cold or carrying the entire burden. , which was broadcast around the world, featured little coverage of art and culture am a because it was aimed at such a broad audience and conveyed a highly american, middle ground and stability about our voa asure, we can see what close thed the deal. artist,eatures on art, writers, critics, and key ideas about american culture, was of america founded the themes of cold war modernism. -- it didat the truly
9:26 am
so as to the voice of america. it expressed in the style and voice of american commercial broadcast journalism. it very much sounded like what you would your on cbs radio. it did not sound propaganda. voice of america's mission was to provide -- that differentiated itself from radio liberty. operations intended to be propaganda and were friendly so. was of america was posted be like -- was of america was supposed to be like bbc> . the bc as a model so audiences would not dismiss it as propaganda, would have an likely. is was to avoid seeming like
9:27 am
your propagandizing. during the truman administration, voice of america at go the argument that ethnic diversity characterized the u.s. cultural scene. it stressed that the u.s. is still a melting pot, but they showed contemporary art is not national but universal. it could even be belittling at times. , the artists who were described as three of the better american modernist, praise the regionalist condition
9:28 am
and the variety it has brought to american art. are much more orderly and rational than the layman give them credit for being. of course, there is a persistent attitude that modernism are unpredictable, bohemian, countered by the notion that some of them are not. coverage of all the arts increased after 1953. george allen reported to congress in 1958 that the agency was placing more emphasis on american arts. toonew program cannot be daring or avant-garde. the content had to appeal to a
9:29 am
broad audience in each target nation. intellectuals and also a popular --ience, who prepared preferred portraits of daily life. this is to be expected. painting does not make good radio. they thrived in the united states and were accessible to an popular among our citizens and's art lively discussions among an engaged populist. the idea that the individual is the ultimate source of creativity permeated the cold war modernist project. haiti's andlett yes -- is more
9:30 am
individualistic than it was. artists have any freedom of his action and gained a new creative role. hours,uralistic part of is the appropriate expression of a democratic society offering whites go to individuals. really brought up explicitly is -- artists and writers in the soviet union were prescribed content and how they write, and, pose. bigotry faulkner as a humanist and realist. it had been cleared by the 19 or -- his workkner's
9:31 am
was deeply rooted in a humanistic study of the work of the individual with competition and the wilderness of the unfeeling mind. although it treated modernism respectively, voice of america saved it highest praise for work that straddled the middle line. it's a retelling of the story, but largely forgotten today. mayran a feature on it in in the 1950's asking if it was a modern classic.
9:32 am
he is really working on all sides of this. wilder and his own profile coinciding with the features --n, the not downplaying, emphasizing the the's features such as ethics. these are not works of radical message. i the contrary. -- quite the contrary. it insists repeatedly that his work is universal. faulkner possesses a deep sense of the universal and history of mankind. they also went to various
9:33 am
writers and asked them to compose an essay of their hometown, because he thought it would add a little local color. there was one by marianne moore about brooklyn. the asphalt to do it, but he wouldn't do it. outside of literature and voa by two profile -- refuting the idea that popular at weymouth the only reward american artists see. difficultyo the of their subject's work. one even quotes someone from the guggenheim museum. desiregraham lost her
9:34 am
and forced a new kind of dance that is not always inviting our pleasant. alexander'sismissed notion. each of these artists have followed their uses in me challenging art of enduring value. whole, these profiles depict american artists as individualists, innovators who have not weathered under critical attacks and this places modernistsf expression of them. -- expressionism.
9:35 am
many of them bridged the divide. i suspect everyone knows broad outlines of its story. created largely by the cia and the information research department, the congress brought together european intellectuals, many of them former communists. they brought them to promote cultural freedom and modernist art. this is a photograph of the initial congress that was held in berlin in 1950. congress was hugely influential until it employed it when it cia 1966 ande exposed to much of its membership for lead. -- fled.
9:36 am
saunders has the best expose of it. and how they use modernism in one of its projects. the english language magazine "encounter." it became a leading cultural magazine in britain. it's mission was to be anti-communism, but not a so. memorialized modernism as a cultural high point in which we had fallen away. the mark of t.s. eliot is everywhere in the journal. stephen spender was one of columnist.piteful "encounter," you would that a movement and often
9:37 am
seen as subversive. ofthey mourned the death modernism, another parallel magazine celebrated modernism. 1952, the publisher james lacklandd -- james toed his friend for $250,000 u.s.europe how advanced art had become. the magazine which was printed english,, french, and was not interesting and only had 16 issues. there were some original almost 20 years
9:38 am
, -- here is him taking a magazine and showing it off. lackland years before, had been motivated to go into publishing that writers could change consciousness and the world. tohough he never signed off fascism, he was for a long time,
9:39 am
had seen me know as one of the purposes of modernist literature. in perspective, any socio-political content, modernism is nothing but a collection of artistic styles. words, modernism has gone from a cause to a style. counter," they never make that argument is it. the united states had art that was certainly equal of europe. if the magazine was not interesting, the parent organization was. intercultural publications brought together on its board of directors, the world of
9:40 am
literature through lackland. business, jack hines, was on the board. the ford foundation who funded it. casey was a diehard cold warrior who had served during the war and became reagan's cia director. he was actually representing the biographer denied this, but i am not so certain. at this time, the line between , the cia, and the state department were pretty blurry. my best guess is that milton taft was another director of the ford foundation and had
9:41 am
suggested that tcb included on the board. casey beted that included on the board. don't worry about keeping all this straight. networksis that these work together. lackland and casey -- this is a picture of the ford foundation meeting. they got a huge amount of money in the early 1950's. the guy with the funny haircut was very liberal. he was an interesting guy. when lockman saw the magazine as a showcase for modernism is that rtwohetisized, the
9:42 am
when ito conflict denigrated our middle class culture. incensed. when lockman refused, casey said they print something else. and they did. let's think about this. a magazine run by an avant-garde publisher showing -- runs an article i peter. modernism was not what it used to be. modernism had made its pease . --vy and of the 1950's
9:43 am
soviet culture has little appeal. of york was the center artistic culture. modernist styles had become literature, art, and decorative home products. wonlutionary modernism its part. in the journey, it may have helped the united states win the cold war. thank you. [applause] greg: i can take any questions.
9:44 am
[indiscernible] greg: that was a really good questions. france was a real target here read they had the most influential intellectuals. modernist art had been acceptable and mainstreamed in france earlier than it was in the united states. love in western europe for socialist realism.
9:45 am
no one was clamoring for the the only one i can think of thiis schollocom. competing against it with it that much. the idea was that americans cannot be producing the of andre grie. the nobel prizes were becoming a battlefield of the cultural cold war. i don't know if that answers your questions? ?
9:46 am
[no audio] have you ever come across modernist ballet? you talk about martha graham in the modern dancers. admit that myo understanding of dance is so minimal, i would trust myself to even start talking about that. [laughter] the answer is i am aware of the fact that some people say that they brought modernism to ballet , but i couldn't begin to talk about how it was used. in the 1950's, we send a lot of
9:47 am
arts groups there. wrote a great book about jazz players like ellington and dizzy gillespie. i wish i could talk more in depth, but i don't trust myself with anything related to that. >> were the europeans also using this whole idea of modernism at againsturing the attack the communist movement? greg: they were not using it aggressively governmentally, but it was in a call for cultural freedom. heat was very much teh
9:48 am
apriorty. we in the west have this modern art and take it that it is more and theyng, original have socialist realism. no one bothered to talk about it. there was one in paris. -- they brought faulkner over. this is the kind of art that the west produces and both americans and europeans are doing this. though, they didn't keep their mouths shut about it. they had a cultural diplomatic voks., but the acronym is
9:49 am
it is similar to the united states central information agency. they have a magazine recirculated in the united states and western europe with the have these articles about and whyosophical basis modernist was -- they want letting these attacks go unanswered. they really do defend them. i don't accept the argument, but there is an intellectual framework why socialist realism is responsible for rebuilding. >> you mention france is the battleground for acceptance and embrace of american modernism as a culturally mature, viable mode of artistic expression. to what extent was it important
9:50 am
to win over the germans? the country is still occupied and they have tremendous resources. givenwas a great deal of to shaping postwar german culture. theykind of a factor were in the ongoing debate, or did it not matter since we were keeping the russia out with troops? greg: that is a really good questions and i have wondered that because there are so -- well, not as wealthy then, but they were going to be so important. i think the main answer is that german intellectuals were discredited. what do we care what they think? were you doing in 1935? so, that is my answer to that. i think the occupation has something to do with it and i think the germans were busy
9:51 am
rebuilding. picasso who were first on the minds of who we , -- arying to influence fantastic book on intellectuals and why they were so important. i think my guess would he no one would take german intellectuals seriously. creek, you did a nice job of showing us how the state department and others modernism to advance an argument about american civilization. what extent did the cold war change modernism? modernism predate the cold war. to what extent did the cold war alter it in any way? it is cap change because of the
9:52 am
fact that the strategic military international environment changed around it? actually my itdamental argument that avoided it of critique. it made its style and gesture. i think it is true in literature. inhink we see this "encounter," with the critics were mostly british and so convinced that the great works of the modernist cannot be reproduced. a look at the public and the writers out there at that time and they say -- they stop and senior at them. like osborne and thom gunn, and looking at them saying the don't have anything to offer them.
9:53 am
but what lackland is doing is buried consciously turning it into the spirit style. is turning it into purist style. we should only evaluate works of art by their formal features. thet pay attention to political believe the author is trying to convey. my first book was all about how lackland did that with frederick pound. that was the way one read. lackland's magazine does that across the arts. i think modernism started out as politically radical trying to transform society.
9:54 am
in the 1950's, it lost all of which led to postmodernism. and lacking depth where modernism was all about depth and layers. i don't know if that answers your questions? ? [indiscernible] i am glad someone is looking say.o what i am about to try to live up to your expectations. your argument about how cold war modernists treated institutions to mediate american modernism to an international audience was compelling. wereder if there also efforts made by the same folks
9:55 am
to influence, or use existing european institutions to also convey that? was the relationship between these same group of actors that you are telling the story about right now? and european universities, museums, or other organizations that were already reforming such functions? greg: i was i could give you a long, detailed answer. that is the next questioned. i have two more questions to come out of this. that is one of them. i have gotten to know the american institutions of publishing and magazines relatively well. one of the things i have learned from nation to nation, not only individual institutions, but it is so different in different nations. i know a little bit about britain, but nothing about
9:56 am
france that people were saying. thingshat is one of the that may be interesting because it was intended to be primarily a reddish aimed magazine -- british-aimed magazine. they have a different way of judging culture. question fantastic but i can't, but i can answer that. the other option that has come and i was discussing woman named andrea who is hungarian, and she is writing about eastern european intellectuals and artists were handling this. thedo they negotiate pressure of the union soviet writers? what are the codes by which they are trying to engage an experiment techniques without
9:57 am
being detected? that is the next thing, also, when we sent these books over, when we had, for instance, -- ping theirshed publishers to make it look like faulkner, how did readers understand it? how did readers respond to them? we needthat something to know. i don't have the language. that is one of the reasons this crossof study -- and i between cold war history and book history. cold war history is interesting and how people read and understand literature and best determine what it means. and most of us are french, german, and english speaking. 1955,d be interested in 1956, with the first publishing
9:58 am
of faulkner in the soviet union. i would love to know how were people reading? there was an article saying that , yes, he is decadent in modernist, but he does interesting things because he talks about class. there was a prescribed way knowing he was ok, but will readers getting out of it because he became very popular? your response to an american artists, you would be examined. i cannot answer your questions. i wish i could. but you are hitting on exactly where we need to go and start to understand how these different cultures and nations respond. another question? thank you all. i really appreciate your attention and appreciate you coming out.
9:59 am
especially on yom kippur, you're skipping temple. thanks. [applause] >> it does not require silence, what should my husband's job or --rs prevented us from prevent us from being ourselves? i do not believe that being first lady should prevent me from expressing my ideas. [applause] ready for spoke her mind
10:00 am
pro-choice and a supporter of the equal rights amendment. she and the president openly discussed her battle with breast cancer. she struggled with drug and alcohol dependency. to find post white house years. atty ford this sunday night 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span's original series first ladies. influence and image. examining the public and private life of the women who fill the position of first lady and their influence on the presidency. onday at 8:00 p.m. eastern american history tv on c-span3. announcer: each week, american history's tv show "reel america" brings you stories. in response to the war, opec imposed an embargo on the united states and other countries lasting from 1973 until march 1974.


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on