Fred Turner: The Democratic Surround: Multimedia and American Liberalism from World War II to the Psychedelic Sixties (2013)

25 February 2019, dusan

“We commonly think of the psychedelic sixties as an explosion of creative energy and freedom that arose in direct revolt against the social restraint and authoritarian hierarchy of the early Cold War years. Yet, as Fred Turner reveals in The Democratic Surround, the decades that brought us the Korean War and communist witch hunts also witnessed an extraordinary turn toward explicitly democratic, open, and inclusive ideas of communication and with them new, flexible models of social order. Surprisingly, he shows that it was this turn that brought us the revolutionary multimedia and wild-eyed individualism of the 1960s counterculture.

In this prequel to his book From Counterculture to Cyberculture, Turner rewrites the history of postwar America, showing how in the 1940s and ’50s American liberalism offered a far more radical social vision than we now remember. Turner tracks the influential mid-century entwining of Bauhaus aesthetics with American social science and psychology. From the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the New Bauhaus in Chicago and Black Mountain College in North Carolina, Turner shows how some of the most well-known artists and intellectuals of the forties developed new models of media, new theories of interpersonal and international collaboration, and new visions of an open, tolerant, and democratic self in direct contrast to the repression and conformity associated with the fascist and communist movements. He then shows how their work shaped some of the most significant media events of the Cold War, including Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition, the multimedia performances of John Cage, and, ultimately, the psychedelic Be-Ins of the sixties. Turner demonstrates that by the end of the 1950s this vision of the democratic self and the media built to promote it would actually become part of the mainstream, even shaping American propaganda efforts in Europe.

Overturning common misconceptions of these transformational years, The Democratic Surround shows just how much the artistic and social radicalism of the sixties owed to the liberal ideals of Cold War America, a democratic vision that still underlies our hopes for digital media today.”

Publisher University of Chicago Press, 2013
ISBN 9780226325897, 022632589X
365 pages

Reviews: Jathan Sadowski (LA Review of Books, 2014), Carolyn L Kane (J Visual Culture, 2015), Matthew Linton (Society For U.S. Intellectual History Blog, 2015), Craig J. Pearison (J American History, 2016), Katie Simpson (J-History, 2017), Malte Hagener (NECSUS, 2015), Erika J. Pribanic-Smith (Journalism History, 2014), Debra Cash (ArtsFuse, 2014), Alex Sayf Cummings (2014).
Interview with author (Henry Jenkins, 2014), (cont.)
Interview with author (Clay Shirky, Public Books, 2014)
Video lecture (Berkeley, 2014)

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Joshua Shannon: The Recording Machine: Art and Fact during the Cold War (2017)

14 March 2018, dusan

“A revealing look at the irrevocable change in art during the 1960s and its relationship to the modern culture of fact.

This book offers a new understanding of the transformation of photography and the visual arts around 1968. Author Joshua Shannon reveals an oddly stringent realism in the period, tracing artists’ rejection of essential truths in favor of surface appearances. Dubbing this tendency factualism, Shannon illuminates not only the Cold War’s preoccupation with data but also the rise of a pervasive culture of fact.

Focusing on the United States and West Germany, where photodocumentary traditions intersected with 1960s politics, Shannon investigates a broad variety of art, ranging from conceptual photography and earthworks to photorealist painting and abstraction. He looks closely at art by Bernd and Hilla Becher, Robert Bechtle, Vija Celmins, Douglas Huebler, Gerhard Richter, and others. These artists explored fact’s role as a modern paradigm for talking, thinking, and knowing. Their art, Shannon concludes, helps to explain both the ambivalent anti-humanism of today’s avant-garde art and our own culture of fact.”

Publisher Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2017
ISBN 9780300187274, 0300187270
ix+230 pages

Review: Ina Blom (The Sixties, 2018).

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Jérôme Bazin, Pascal Dubourg Glatigny, Piotr Piotrowski (eds.): Art beyond Borders: Artistic Exchange in Communist Europe, 1945-1989 (2016)

21 August 2016, dusan

“This book presents and analyzes artistic interactions both within the Soviet bloc and with the West between 1945 and 1989. During the Cold War the exchange of artistic ideas and products united Europe’s avant-garde in a most remarkable way. Despite the Iron Curtain and national and political borders there existed a constant flow of artists, artworks, artistic ideas and practices. The geographic borders of these exchanges have yet to be clearly defined. How were networks, centers, peripheries (local, national and international), scales, and distances constructed? How did (neo)avant-garde tendencies relate with officially sanctioned socialist realism?

The literature on the art of Eastern Europe provides a great deal of factual knowledge about a vast cultural space, but mostly through the prism of stereotypes and national preoccupations. By discussing artworks, studying the writings on art, observing artistic evolution and artists’ strategies, as well as the influence of political authorities, art dealers and art critics, the essays in Art beyond Borders compose a transnational history of arts in the Soviet satellite countries in the post war period.”

Publisher CEU Press, Budapest/New York, 2016
Leipzig Studies on the History and Culture of East-Central Europe series, 3
ISBN 9789633860830, 9633860830
xii+494+24 pages
via x

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