In 1946, the U.S. State Department embarked on a mission of cultural diplomacy in the Latin American republics, Europe, and Asia featuring exhibitions of paintings by the leading American modernists of the time. Though intended to illustrate America’s freedom of expression, it was quickly deemed unrepresentative of American values by conservative members of Congress who forced the State Department to recall the collections to the U.S., where they were later auctioned off to public and private buyers. Among these buyers were the present organizers of this exhibition. For quite some time, our three institutions (Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia, Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma, and Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University), which collectively hold eighty-five of those works of art, have wanted to recreate the original exhibitions.
The controversy over these well-intended exhibitions and the subsequent sale of the objects by the War Assets Administration as government surplus have provoked research by various scholars, most notably in the exhibition and accompanying catalogue entitled Advancing American Art: Politics and Aesthetics in the State Department Exhibition 1946–1948 (1984) with essays by Margaret Lynne Ausfeld and Virginia M. Mecklenburg. We thank them and acknowledge the many other scholars, including Serge Guilbaut, Taylor D. Littleton, Leon F. Litwack, Louis Menand, and Maltby Sykes, for the groundwork they laid for this project.
We are pleased to realize this shared vision through the dedicated efforts of various lenders, our hard-working staffs, and others listed below. We wish to acknowledge the following for their efforts.
Contact us if you are interested in supporting the Art Interrupted tour or programming. Use “Support” as your email subject.
We are grateful to both the Henry C. Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, which have assisted us with the necessary funding for this project. Their generosity and belief in the project has been invaluable and inspiring.
The exhibition, accompanying catalogue, educational programs, and national tour of Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy are made possible by grants from the Henry Luce Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts as part of American Masterpieces: Three Centuries of Artistic Genius.
Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University
Marilyn Laufer, Director
Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art,
University of Oklahoma
Wylodean and Bill Saxon Director
Georgia Museum of Art,
University of Georgia
William U. Eiland, Director
Katherine Dehn, of Kraushaar Galleries; Freda and Richard Durrett, of Durrett Studios; Jason Schoen; Stephen Murphy, of New Trier Township High School; Kevin and Cheryl Vogel and the Valley House Gallery of Dallas; Paul D. Schweizer, of the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute; Allison Whiting, of Christie’s New York; Andrew V. LaLonde and Kathy Houghton of the New York Mills Union Free School District; and Pamela Bransford, of the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts.
Mark A. White, Eugene B. Adkins Curator, Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma
Dennis P. Harper, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University
Paul Manoguerra, Chief Curator and Curator of American Art, Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia
Robert Ekelund; Claude Albritton; Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Seidel; Wendy Blazier of the Boca Raton Museum; Don Bacigalupi, Chris Crosman, and Jennifer De Martino of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; Maxwell Anderson and Trisha Dixon of the Dallas Museum of Art; Suzanne Delahanty, Donna Gustafson, and Margaret Molnar of the Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Linda Dodson of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts; Carol Herr of the Lancaster County Art Association; Sylvia Wolf and Judy Sourakli of the Henry Art Gallery, University of Washington; Stephan Jost and Pauline Sugino of the Honolulu Academy of Arts; Karen Rosner of the New York City Department of Education; and Grace Ramirez Gaston of the Public Art for Public Schools, New York City School Construction Authority, and private collectors.
Auburn University—Janice Allen, Scott Bishop, Michael Cortez, Danielle Funderburk, Janet Guynn, J. Andrew Henley, Jessica Hughes, Sunny Stalter, and Andy Tennant.
Georgia Museum of Art—Paul Manoguerra, Tricia Miller, Hillary Brown and Betty Alice Fowler
University of Oklahoma—Gail Kana Anderson, Susan Baley, Michael Bendure, Miranda Callander, Deborah Rudy, Brad Stevens, Robyn Tower, Becky Zurcher Trumble, and Heather Read
Mike Pullin and the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art Association for their support in acquiring one additional work from the original checklist of Advancing American Art and one watercolor in the accompanying group that was sold in the WAA auction.
Roger and Joyce Lethander for making possible the acquisition of an additional work from Advancing American Art for the collection of the Jule Collins Smith Museum.
Adelheid M. Gealt, director, and Jenny McComas, curator of Western art after 1800, at Indiana University Art Museum, for agreeing to have their institution serve as the third venue of four for this exhibition.
Lamar Advertising for an in-kind sponsorship
Finally, thank you to Luis Salamanques of UNESCO for his assistance in research efforts.