In 1946, J. LeRoy Davidson began assembling a collection of contemporary American paintings to show the world what his countrymen could do in modern art. By 1948, those works had been auctioned off to buyers across the nation, Davidson forced to resign, his position abolished and the entire project a laughingstock in the media. Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy reunites nearly all of the paintings Davidson purchased, recreating his original proposed exhibition and investigating the U.S. State Department's use of fine art as a valuable tool in the Cold War.
Organized by Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University, the Georgia Museum of Art at the University of Georgia, and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma and supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Henry Luce Foundation, this exhibition draws from the permanent collections of ten museums, private collectors, and other public institutions and includes many of the images from Advancing American Art.
Representing works by artists from Romare Bearden to Ben Shahn, Stuart Davis, Georgia O'Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Loren MacIver, Jacob Lawrence, Marsden Hartley, and Arthur Dove, Art Interrupted includes many important figures in the development of American modernism. Although his failed, Davidson's project had a second life as the works were dispersed across the nation. In the collections of, primarily, university museums and galleries, including the three organizing institutions, they exemplified the principles for which he has intended them and reached countless Americans in their formative years.
Contributors to this catalog are Scott Bishop, Robert Ekelund, Danielle Mohr Funderburk, Dennis Harper, J. Andrew Henley, Jessica Hughes, Marilyn Laufer, Paul Manoguerra, Daniel Scott Neil, Heather Read, Sunny Stalter-Pace, and Mark Andrew White.
View a preview of this exhibition catalog below.