The New Republic
Against the Current
At first glance, modern art and contemporary imperialism make strange bedfellows. The book under review both charts the history of the CIA's work in promoting US corporate interests through its manipulation of culture--what was then called cultural diplomacy-- while also working to define modernism. The reviewer congratulates the author on his first task, but criticizes him on the second.
Scholars are producing increasingly detailed accounts of how the U.S. government utilized artists and culture in the Cold War anti-Communist crusade. According to former diplomat John H. Brown, this new study, by Greg Barnhisel, shows that an important factor in making modernism work for U.S. Cold War interests involved "defanging modernism of its radicalism and turning it into an international vehicle for whitebread all-American convictions."