Log In | Account Info
Cart | Checkout
Advancing American Art, Advancing American Art, 0817352589, 0-8173-5258-9, 978-0-8173-5258-5, 9780817352585,

Advancing American Art
Painting, Politics, and Cultural Confrontation at Mid-Century
Edited by Taylor D. Littleton, Maltby Sykes

Quality Paper
2005. 176 pp.
4-color illustrations
Price:  $19.95 s

A representative collection of avant-garde American painting from the 1930s and ’40s
Conceived and funded by the State Department in 1946 as part of a new emphasis in international diplomacy, the exhibit of paintings called Advancing American Art was launched on what was enthusiastically projected as an extended goodwill tour of Europe and Latin America. But almost immediately the exhibit was attacked by conservative groups as “un-American” and “subversive” and its abstract paintings ridiculed in the national media, in Congress, and by no less a critic than President Truman. Following their recall by Secretary Marshall in 1947, the exhibit’s paintings were quietly declared surplus property and sold under rather curious circumstances by the War Assets Administration. Most of the collection was acquired by a small number of public universities in what could be called the art bargain of the century, since works by such figures as Marin, O’Keefe, Shahn, Dove, Kuniyoshi, and Hartley were sold for $100 or less.

The chronicle of this exhibit tells us something about America after the war, when the nation sought to reconcile its sacrificial experiences from the Depression and in World War II with its new role on the international scene. Defining the figures of confrontation that challenged America’s tenuous self-conceptions at the time, this book captures a significant transitional moment in U.S. history while also serving as a catalog of the 38 masterpieces purchased by Auburn University.

Taylor D. Littleton is W. Kelly Mosley Professor of Science emeritus at Auburn University.

Maltby Sykes was Emeritus Professor of Art at Auburn University.

Leon F. Litwack is a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian at the University of California, Berkeley.

“The Auburn collection is a substantial treasure [that] documents remarkably well a period critical to the development of American painting, and includes works of excellent quality. Its extraordinary history gives it great symbolic significance, and Professor Littleton and Sykes deserve much credit for a well-researched, intelligently presented study.”
—Southern Humanities Review

“The events surrounding Advancing American Art portray perfectly the dangers of censorship and nativism.”
Academic Library Book Review 

“Fascinating and also exemplary. . . . Littleton and Sykes have done a great service.”
—Southern Changes

Also of Interest

William Christenberry
by J. Richard Gruber, J. Richard Gruber

From That Terrible Field
by James M. Williams
Edited by John Kent Folmar

House by the Side of the Road
Richie Jean Sherrod Jackson

Story of Coal and Iron in Alabama
Ethel Armes