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Plural Diplomacies Between Indian Termination and the Cold War: Contemporary American Indian Paintings in the ‘Near East’, 1964–66

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From 1964 to 1966, the United States Information Agency toured an exhibition of modern artworks titled Contemporary American Indian Paintings to Greece, Turkey, Iran, Algeria and Israel. Among other exhibitions of Native American art sent abroad during the Cold War, the paintings were intended to counter Soviet critiques of US colonization with a message of benevolent modernization, while deflecting international attention away from Indigenous decolonization struggles. This article positions the tour between federal Indian termination policy and Cold War propaganda, considering how Contemporary American Indian Paintings quietly slipped Native American diplomatic concerns into a global arena shaped by imperialism.
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Keywords: Cold War exhibitions; Contemporary American Indian Paintings; Matachines; Native American art; Pueblo painting; Studio School; United States Information Agency; art and cultural diplomacy; exhibitions and soft power

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Delaware

Publication date: October 1, 2016

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  • 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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