The Woodrow Wilson Center Press

What People are Saying

The Arts of Democracy is a wonderful collection that addresses a set of vitally important topics. The essays range widely and imaginatively, offering nuanced considerations of the relationship between art, public culture, and the state. The book will be a must-read not only among historians and art historians, but also among arts administrators, foundation officers, and public officials.”—Daniel Horowitz, author of Betty Friedan and the Making of The Feminine Mystique

“A comprehensive and profound investigation into the place and role of the public arts in culture.”—Journal of American Culture

“An ambitious, well-conceived collection of essays. … The essays move with precision between artists and agencies and the Cold War policies that shaped both in national and international contexts. Roughly, the narrative arc of the essays contends that the embrace by Cold War-inspired agencies of abstraction and modernism (and jazz) as evidence of American freedom from Soviet-style tyranny produced a singular moment for U.S. public culture that eventually gave way to hostility from the Left and from the Right that has resulted in a desire for a return to ‘tradition’ in various forms.”—Journal of American History

Chapter List

Introduction: Public Culture Reconsidered

Part I: Commercial Culture as Public Culture
1. Festival Culture, American Style
Neil Harris
2. Norman Rockwell, Public Artist
Michele H. Bogart

Part II: Cultural Policy and the State
3. Culture and the State in America
Michael Kammen
4. The Happy Few—en Masse: Franco-American Comparisons in Cultural Democratization
Vera L. Zolberg
5. Exporting America: The U.S. Propaganda Offensive, 1945–1959
Laura A. Belmonte
6. The Goodwill Ambassador: Duke Ellington and Black Worldliness
Penny M. Von Eschen
7. A Modernist Vision: The Origins and Early Years of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Visual Arts Program
Donna M. Binkiewicz
8. Between Civics and Politics: The Modernist Moment in Federal Public Art
Casey Nelson Blake

Part III The Arts and Civic Culture after Modernism
9. The Swirl of Image and Sound: On the Latest Version of Antirealism
Kenneth Cmiel
10. Public Attitudes toward Cultural Authority and Cultural Diversity in Higher Education and the Arts
Paul DiMaggio and Bethany Bryson
11. “Subtle, Intangible, and Non-Quantifiable”: Aesthetics, Law, and Speech in Public Space
Leslie Prosterman
12. The Public Display of Religion
Sally M. Promey

About Woodrow Wilson Center Press

Woodrow Wilson Center Press publishes books by fellows, other resident scholars, and staff written in substantial part at the Wilson Center.