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Modern Art and German Reconstruction: American Curatorial Interventions in Postwar Berlin

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This article offers an analysis of two little-known 1951 exhibitions that marked a new era for American cultural diplomacy with postwar Germany. Contemporary Berlin Artists was circulated across the United States, while Amerikanische Malerei: Werden und Gegenwart (‘American Painting in the Making and Now’) introduced contemporary American art to Berliners. Both exhibitions were organized by the American Federation of Arts (AFA) in collaboration with the United States High Commissioner for Germany. The article examines how the AFA employed contemporary art in its exhibitions to advance American cultural and diplomatic goals for West Germany.
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Keywords: American Federation of Arts; Amerikanische Malerei: Werden und Gegenwart; Cold War and exhibitions; Contemporary Berlin Artists; exhibitions and diplomacy; postwar Germany

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Eskenazi Museum of Art

Publication date: October 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Curatorial Studies is an international, peer-reviewed publication that explores the cultural functioning of curating and its relation to exhibitions, institutions, audiences, aesthetics and display culture. The journal takes a wide perspective in the inquiry into what constitutes "the curatorial." Curating has evolved considerably from the connoisseurship model of arranging objects to now encompass performative, virtual and interventionist strategies. While curating as a spatialized discourse of art objects remains important, the expanded cultural practice of curating not only produces exhibitions for audiences to view, but also plays a catalytic role in redefining aesthetic experience, framing cultural conditions in institutions and communities, and inquiring into constructions of knowledge and ideology.
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