ATHENS, GA.- The Georgia Museum of Art
at the University of Georgia in partnership with the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma was recently awarded a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation for the exhibition and catalogue of Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy.
The Georgia Museum of Art will publish a catalogue of the exhibition featuring essays by curators from the organizing museums and an entry on each work. The staff of the three museums will collaborate on educational programs and on publicity and marketing including national promotions in several leading American art periodicals. The exhibition will tour in 2012-2013, opening in Auburn, Ala., and closing in Athens with a possible fourth venue to be determined.
Art Interrupted will reassemble, to the extent possible, a group of contemporary, modernist paintings purchased by the U.S. State Department in1946 for a goodwill tour of Latin America and Europe. The original exhibition of 119 paintings, Advancing American Art, was part of a new direction in international diplomacy, and, though it was met with praise from art critics here and abroad, it was directly assailed by American conservative groups who used the national media and members of Congress to vilify its modernist slant. As a result, the exhibition tour was cancelled and the works auctioned as government surplus; the three project partners acquired at a huge discount a combined total of 82 works originally included in Advancing American Art.
Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy will feature approximately 100 works, primarily oil paintings and watercolors, representing artists from various backgrounds and at different stages in their careers. In 1946, these artists were considered among the most talented modernists of the time. Some were well known or gained a solid reputation later in the century, as in the case of Georgia OKeeffe, John Marin, Arthur Dove, Yasuo Kuniyoshi, Ben Shahn, Jacob Lawrence and Romare Bearden. Others, such as Nahum Tschabachov, Mitchell Siporin, Karl Zerbe and David Burliuk are little known today in spite of large bodies of existing work.
The goal of Art Interrupted is to assess these works of art as key examples of modern American art, reflective and expressive of all the diverse styles and influences that defined that movement in the mid-20th century. The exhibition also will examine government sponsorship of the arts, cultural propaganda and the culture wars, issues that pertain to present-day as well as historical circumstances.
The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by the late Henry R. Luce, cofounder and editor in chief of Time, Inc. The Luce Foundation supports projects in American art, higher education, Asian affairs, theology, women in science and engineering and public policy and the environment.
Through the Program in American Art, begun in 1982, the foundation has distributed more than $130 million to some 250 museums, universities and service organizations in 47 states, the District of Columbia and internationally.