Freedom of Expression

Circus Girl Resting

Yasuo Kuniyoshi- Circus Girl Resting

When President Truman viewed Yasuo Kuniyoshi’s Circus Girl Resting in Advancing American Art he declared: “If that’s art, then I’m a hottentot.” Following the exhibit Kuniyoshi and other artists were blacklisted from government support because of their suspected communist leanings. In the early 1950s the State Department gradually began to support art diplomacy again, but on a very limited basis. Increased activities surrounding cultural exchanges abroad prompted President Eisenhower to create the United States Information Agency(USIA) in 1953. While the State Department and USIA practiced some art diplomacy concentrated on combating communism, because of Advancing American Art they were unable to utilize modern art.

The art diplomacy activities of the International Program and Council concentrated solely on modern art. MoMA did what the State Department would not, support modern American artists. Kuniyoshi was blacklisted from government support, but the International Program organized an exhibit of his work abroad that represented the United States.

The works of Yasuo Kuniyoshi on display at the 1952 Venice Biennale.

The works of Yasuo Kuniyoshi on display at the 1952 Venice Biennale.

From MoMA to the State Department
Freedom of Expression