Art, Institutions, and Internationalism, 1945–73

This guest-edited issue of ARTMargins evaluates the relationship between art, artists, and international institutions in the postwar period. Concentrating on the emergence of new forms of internationalism in response to decolonization and the diplomatic impasses of the Cold War in the decades following World War II, the issue confronts the problem of the nation-state within the emerging scholarly field known as “global modernism.” We propose that the term global modernism, while a productive shorthand for scholarship that expands modernism’s geographies, may also be anachronistic and misleading. The word global itself began to gain currency only after the 1960s, and particularly the 1970s, vis-à-vis the rise of transnational capitalism and global economic, environmental, and technological governance. Relying on a narrative of the “global before globalization,” uncritical use of this term erases the importance of forms of exchange that aren’t congruous with globalization as an economic process. Furthermore, global modernism risks becoming a would-be panacea to art history’s disciplinary discomfort with the continued impact of nationalism on both art and the growing art world in the latter half of the 20th century. In art and politics, what is meant by global versus international or is entailed by internationalism versus globalization has been subject to constant flux. These changing stakes open rich complications that risk being lost in a term such as global modernism.

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