Partisan Pictures: Art and Images in the Cold War

Thursday, April 15, 2014
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm (EST) Enter Classroom Enter Forum


John J. Curley
Assistant Professor, Art History, MacDonough Family Faculty Fellow,
Wake Forest University

About the Seminar

Since the Cold War was in many respects more ideological than military, more about perceptions and propaganda than about battles and bombing, images—especially those in the mass press—played a primary role in it. In fact, paintings were important soldiers in the conflict. Just as American critics positioned abstract art, like that of Jackson Pollock, as emblematic of democracy, socialist critics interpreted didactic figurative art, like Socialist Realism, as the herald of revolution. By closely reading period art criticism and important paintings from both sides, we will explore and deconstruct the partisan role of art and images in the Cold War, especially during the 1950s and 1960s.

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Assigned Readings

    1. “Avant-Garde and Kitsch,” Clement Greenberg, Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, pp. 529-541.
    2. “The American Action Painters,” Harold Rosenberg, Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, pp. 581-584.
    3. from "Aspects of Two Cultures," Vladimir Kemenov, Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas, pp. 647-649.
    4. “The Photographic Message" Roland Barthes, Photography in Print, pp. 521-533.
    5. A Conspiracy of Images: Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and the Art of the Cold War, John J. Curley, pp. 1-16.
    6. “Abstract Expressionism, Weapon of the Cold War” Eva Cockcroft, Pollock and After: The Critical Debate, pp. 147-154.

    1. Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm (Number 30), 1950. Enamel on canvas. 105 x 207 in. (266.7 x 525.8 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    2. Tatyana Yablonskaya, Bread, 1949. Oil on canvas. 79 x 145 in. (200 x 307 cm). State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
    3. October 14, 1962: U-2 photograph of Cuba, Dino A. Brugioni Collection, The National Security Archive, Washington, D.C.
    4. Life, “Speaking of Pictures,” April 14, 1952
    5. Photomontage featuring Senator Millard Tydings (right) and General Secretary of Communist Party USA Earl Browder (left), 1950, from Life, 12 March 1951, 54.
    6. Andy Warhol, Thirty-Five Jackies (Multiplied Jackies), 1964. Silkscreen ink and acrylic on canvas, 100 2/3 x 113 in. (255.7 x 286.8 cm). MMK Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt am Main, former collection of Karl Ströher, Darmstadt.
    7. Gerhard Richter, Woman with an Umbrella (Frau mit Schirm), 1964. Oil on canvas, 63 x 37 3/8 in. (160 x 95 cm). Daros Collection, Zürich
    8. Andy Warhol, Suicide (Silver Jumping Man), 1963. Silkscreen ink and silver paint on linen 45 x 82 in. (114.3 x 208.3 cm). Collection of The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh