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The Cold War in America: Works from the 1950s-1970s, Selections from the Art Museum Collection

Aug. 21 - Dec. 22, 2010


The end of World War II in 1945 did not mean the end of war as we know it; rather, it marked the beginning of a new conflict the Cold War. This ongoing state of political conflict, military tension, and economic competition continued primarily between the Unites States and the Soviet Union. Although the two military powers never officially clashed, the conflict was expressed through military coalitions and strategic deployments, espionage, propaganda, technological and cultural competitions, and most significantly, the development of the nuclear arms race.

Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Pop Art, and Minimalism all came of age during the Cold War period, representing a radically new engagement with materials and space, and redefining the role and purpose of art. Abstract Expressionism became the first American movement to gain world-wide recognition and placed New York at the center of the art world.

It was the emotional upheaval, tension, and the unknown caused by the conflict of the Cold War and its affect on American society that became the muse for artistic development during the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. This tense political and economic atmosphere allowed Abstract Expressionism, Color Field painting, Pop Art, and Minimalism to set the stage for the United States to become the new center for the art world.

  • Funded in part by the National Advisory Board of the UW Art Museum.

Images:

Top: Philip Guston (Canadian/American, 1913-1980), The Street, 1971, lithograph, 10-1/2 x 26 inches, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel R. Dorsky, University of Wyoming Art Museum Collection, 1973.256

Center: Alice Neel (American, 1900-1984), A Bald Headed Man with a Striped Shirt Pipe in Mouth, ed. 73/150, 1980, lithograph, 23-3/4 x 19-1/16 inches, gift of Mr. Ernesto Ostheimer, University of Wyoming Art Museum Collection, 1982.180

Bottom: Adolph Gottlieb (American, 1903-1974), Pink Ground, 1972, color serigraph, 23-15/16 x 17-3/4 inches, gift of Mr. Robert Steinberg, University of Wyoming Art Museum Collection, 1981.41


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