Anti-americanism and Cold War Conspiracies in French and Italian Painting of the Korean War

Martina Caruso, Ph.D.

Anti-americanism, sometimes considered a synonym of anti-imperialism, was a powerful drive amongst European artists and intellectuals during the Cold War in particular regarding US interventionism. With this project I focus on the work of Italian and French postwar artists who were members, or sympathisers, of their respective national Communist parties during the Korean War (1950–1953). I am interested in how Com-munist news sources in Italy and France represented American foreign policy in particular when the US was accused of germ warfare.
Lying at the intersection of artistic inspiration, propaganda and fake news, my research seeks to understand how artists including Giulio Turcato and André Fougeron may have translated anti-Americanism visually. By comparing works that dealt expressly with ideology I aim to connect them to Communist news items and media coverage in order to recreate the intellectual environments that artists were inhabiting and interpreting. This research helps to build the counter-story to that which has been ascertained in art historical scholarship since the mid-1990s, that is the covert US promotion of abstract expressionism via organs pertaining to the CIA. Although scholarship has covered the Communist Party influence on artists, the question of conspiracy theories regarding US and Soviet or Chinese foreign policy among European artists does not appear to have been addressed in sufficient depth.

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