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Making Art Panamerican

Cultural Policy and the Cold War

2013
Author:

Claire F. Fox

Making Art Panamerican

A compelling study of cultural policy in the Americas

Making Art Panamerican situates the ambitious visual arts programs of the Pan American Union within the context of hemispheric cultural relations during the cold war. Challenging the U.S. bias of conventional narratives about Panamericanism and the postwar shift in values from realism to abstraction, Claire F. Fox illuminates the institutional dynamics that helped shape aesthetic movements following World War II.

Making Art Panamerican brings understandings of cultural policy into conversation with many other areas of concern, and therefore greatly expands the sense of that policy sector’s relevance to political, economic and broadly social frameworks. This allows for an invigorated sense of why and how cultural policy matters, and is reflective of the complexity of the space in which it takes place. It is brimming with strongly argued points and clearly articulated insights.

Rachel Weiss, author of To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art

Among the buildings on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., only the Pan American Union (PAU) houses an international organization. The first of many anticipated “peace palaces”constructed in the early twentieth century, the PAU began with a mission of cultural diplomacy, and after World War II its Visual Arts Section became a leader in the burgeoning hemispheric arts scene, proclaiming Latin America’s entrée into the international community as it forged connections between a growing base of middle-class art consumers on one hand and concepts of supranational citizenship and political and economic liberalism on the other.

Making Art Panamerican situates the ambitious visual arts programs of the PAU within the broader context of hemispheric cultural relations during the cold war. Focusing on the institutional interactions among aesthetic movements, cultural policy, and viewing publics, Claire F. Fox contends that in the postwar years, the PAU Visual Arts Section emerged as a major transfer point of hemispheric American modernist movements and played an important role in the consolidation of Latin American art as a continental object of study.

As it traces the careers of individual cultural policymakers and artists who intersected with the PAU in the two postwar decades—such as Concha Romero James, Charles Seeger, José Gómez Sicre, José Luis Cuevas, and Rafael Squirru—the book also charts the trajectories and displacements of sectors of the U.S. and Latin American intellectual left during a tumultuous interval that spans the Mexican Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the New Deal, and the early cold war. Challenging the U.S. bias of conventional narratives about Panamericanism and the postwar shift in critical values from realism to abstraction, Making Art Panamerican illuminates the institutional dynamics that helped shape aesthetic movements in the critical decades following World War II.

Awards

Honorable Mention, The Association for Latin American Art Book Award

Honorable Mention, Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize from the Modern Language Association

Making Art Panamerican

Claire F. Fox is associate professor in the departments of English and of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa. She is the author of The Fence and the River: Culture and Politics at the U.S.–Mexico Border (Minnesota, 1999).

Making Art Panamerican

Making Art Panamerican brings understandings of cultural policy into conversation with many other areas of concern, and therefore greatly expands the sense of that policy sector’s relevance to political, economic and broadly social frameworks. This allows for an invigorated sense of why and how cultural policy matters, and is reflective of the complexity of the space in which it takes place. It is brimming with strongly argued points and clearly articulated insights.

Rachel Weiss, author of To and from Utopia in the New Cuban Art

Along with a thorough overview of programmatic ambitions and social conditions, Fox introduces and analyzes the role of key individuals. Making Art Panamerican, in particular, is a valuable resource for other scholars, curators, and artists, as we are only just beginning to parse the figures and forms that helped write a cultural narrative stretching from the Pan-American Conferences to HemisFair ‘68 and into our contemporary moment.

Artforum

Much of the book’s appeal lies in Fox’s ability to humanize a potentially turgid institutional history with compelling narratives and colorful personalities.

Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

Making Art Panamerican

Contents

Abbreviations
Preface: The Long Twentieth-Century Quest for Panamerica

Introduction: The Pan American Union Visual Arts Programs and Latin American Art

1. Art Enters the Union: The Transition from World War II to the Cold War

2. El Arte Que Progresa: Modernization, Modern Art, and Continental Consciousness

3. José Luis Cuevas, Panamerican Celebrity

4. The Last Party: HemisFair ’68

Afterword: The Afterlife of the Pan American Union Visual Arts Programs

Acknowledgments
Notes
Index

Making Art Panamerican

UMP blog - Archival analysis and cold war Pan Americanism.

My interest in cold war Pan Americanism arose from a desire to pursue lingering questions raised in my previous work on the cultural dimensions of NAFTA-era trade liberalization. But I felt dissatisfied with the existing cold war scholarship’s frequent appeals to the covert and the money trail as ultimate interpretative horizons for art and culture.

Read the full article.