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Cover for American Artists against War, 1935 - 2010

American Artists against War, 1935 - 2010

David McCarthy


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Beginning with responses to fascism in the 1930s and ending with protests against the Iraq wars, David McCarthy shows how American artists—including Philip Evergood, David Smith, H. C. Westermann, Ed Kienholz, Nancy Spero, Leon Golub, Chris Burden, Robert Arneson, Joyce Kozloff, Martha Rosler, and Coco Fusco—have borne witness, registered dissent, and asserted the enduring ability of imagination to uncover truths about individuals and nations. During what has been called the American Century, the United States engaged in frequent combat overseas while developing technologies of unprecedented lethality. Many artists, working collectively or individually, produced antiwar art to protest the use or threat of military violence in the service of an expansionist state. In so doing, they understood themselves to be fighting on behalf of two liberal beliefs: that their country was the guarantor of liberty against empire, and that modern art was a viable means of addressing the most compelling events and issues of the moment. For many artists, creative work was a way to participate in democratic exchange by challenging and clarifying government and media perspectives on armed conflict. Charting a seventy-five-year history of antiwar art and activism, American Artists against War, 1935–2010 lucidly tracks the continuities, preoccupations, and strategies of several generations.

Praise For American Artists against War, 1935 - 2010

"An outstanding volume... American Artists Against War, 1935-2010 is a major contribution to the growing history of American political art."
— Paul von Blum

"McCarthy. . .writes elegant descriptions of artwork and pairs them with strong analysis. Thus individual artworks function like landing places throughout the book: the reader moves from one discussion to the next, picking up historical context and expert opinions along the way."
— Chapter 16

"American Artists against War, 1935–2010 is a welcome addition to scholarship on twentieth-century American art. Well researched and sensitive to the specificities of historical context, David McCarthy’s work offers a broad overview of artists’ opposition to warfare undertaken in the name of capitalist democracy."
— Jody Patterson

"[McCarthy's] study is the first to thoroughly examine our artists’ devotion to expressing their beliefs in work and art."
— Journal of American Culture

University of California Press, 9780520286702, 272pp.

Publication Date: July 7, 2015

About the Author

David McCarthy is Professor of Art History at Rhodes College and author of The Nude in American Painting, 19501980; Pop Art; and H. C. Westermann at War: Art and Manhood in Cold War America.