How Art Becomes History: Essays on Art, Society, and Culture in Post-New Deal America

By Maurice Berger | Go to book overview

Introduction:
How Art Becomes History

THE FALL OF 1986, the Whitney Museum of American Art sponsored a panel entitled "The Coming Fin-de- Siècle." Each panelist was asked to compare the loss of conviction in the modernist/industrialist revolution at the end of the nineteenth century with our own present-day cultural and social conditions. While challenging the undeniable historicism of the question, I ventured the following analogy:

Among the enlightened upper classes in fin-de-siècle Vienna, art enjoyed such respect that even its most radical manifestations (along with its most mediocre) were "given the honor of excited debate and the balm of responsible patronage." Nevertheless, it appears that little was learned from the tormented images of Egon Schiele and Oskar Kokoschka. We need only look to Vienna of 1930 to understand the effects of such ideological myopia. We need only look to the legions of homeless people who sleep in the doorways of our culturally rich city to sense our own pathetic shortsightedness. 1

-xiii-

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How Art Becomes History: Essays on Art, Society, and Culture in Post-New Deal America
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction: How Art Becomes History xiii
  • Notes xxii
  • 1 - FSA: The Illiterate Eye 1
  • II - Of Cold Wars and Curators: the Case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg 23
  • III - World Fairness 46
  • V - Race and Representation 78
  • VI - Black Skin, White Masks: Adrian Piper and the Politics of Viewing 93
  • VII - Culture Stories/American Myths 114
  • VIII - Are Art Museums Racist? 143
  • Notes 166
  • Index 195
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