Advancing American Art

By March 18, 2015Museum Strengths

Advancing American Art

In 1946, the Office of International Information and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. State Department organized an exhibition of 117 oil paintings and watercolors that was designed to demonstrate the ascendancy of American art at the mid-century. Described as a cultural Marshall Plan, the paintings were exhibited at various venues in the United States and abroad. Soon after its initial exhibition, the show was criticized for its “modernity” by conservative politicians, disenfranchised artists and critics. The collection became the focus of intense criticism in Congress which condemned the State Department for its purchase of the collection and for presenting the work of “left-wing”artists whose abstract works, they felt, inadequately illustrated America’s ideals to the rest of the world.

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