This September, the Indiana University Art Museum will host “Art Interrupted: Advancing American Art and the Politics of Cultural Diplomacy,” an exhibition featuring American paintings first assembled in the mid-1940s as part of America’s Cold War cultural battle with the Soviet Union. The exhibition was designed to tour on three continents, but only months after being commissioned, it was abruptly shut down amid rabid controversy.

While the show features many high-quality works by well-known artists, including Stuart Davis, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Edward Hopper, the story of the exhibit’s rise, fall, and recent resurrection is as compelling as the art itself.

“The most interesting part of the exhibit for me is the intersection of art and politics,” says Jenny McComas, IU Art Museum’s Class of 1949 Curator of Western Art After 1800. “As the United States emerged from World War II as a world power and entered the early stages of struggle against the Soviet Union and against communism generally, the exhibition fell victim to America’s changing conception of itself.”

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