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Advancing American Art LeRoy DaviDson’s “BLinD Date with Destiny”

Dennis Harper

IN THE COLD WAR SPRING OF 1946, Joseph LeRoy Davidson, visual-arts

specialist at the State Department in Washington, D.C., began assembling a collection of paintings by contemporary American artists for the government to use as a political tool abroad. Davidson was tasked with developing a set of touring exhibitions that would demonstrate the ascendance of modern American art and its liberation from European roots and exemplify the freedom of expression enjoyed by diverse artists in a democratic country. Directed in large part toward audiences within the growing sphere of Soviet hegemony east of the Iron Curtain, Davidson’s project represented an innovative type of cultural diplomacy and instrument of American foreign policy. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs William B. Benton described the department’s art programs as “[bearing] testimony, to all those abroad who thought of the United States as a nation of materialists, that the same country which produces brilliant scientists and engineers also produces creative artists.”1 At the heart of this initiative was a project called Advancing American Art. 8

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Art Interrupted Catalog Preview  

Buy the full exhibition catalog at Muse. http://www.ou.edu/content/fjjma/shop/ExhibitionCatalogs.html

Art Interrupted Catalog Preview  

Buy the full exhibition catalog at Muse. http://www.ou.edu/content/fjjma/shop/ExhibitionCatalogs.html