“Painting and Sculpture at the American National Exhibition in Moscow, 1959: Defining Success of a Hot Art Show during the Cold War”
In this paper, I will explore the crucial role American visual art played in establishing this contrast. Whereas the basic history of assembling and displaying art at the ANEM is known, novel sources such as drafts of the exhibition catalog allow shedding new light on the curatorial message embodied in the art section. Furthermore, analyzing the recently discovered original comment books, I will provide a nuanced account of the Soviet reception of American art. In doing this, I will challenge the adequacy of the binary opposition favorable/unfavorable as a framework for an analysis of Soviet people’s responses to the ANEM art section. My ultimate goal is to expand the dominant narrative on the ANEM, which treats the art section as an ‘ideological subversion.’ Uncovering how American curators applied specific representational techniques to reach specific target audiences in the Soviet Union, I will provide a comprehensive analysis of the goals, failures, and achievements of the 1959 art exhibition.