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Hugh Eakin
Unaffiliated independent scholar
Picasso's Dealer: Paul Rosenberg and the 1939 Exhibition that Changed America

Preparation for publication of a book about the 1939 Picasso exhibition put on by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the Art Institute of Chicago, the transfer of European art to the United States prior to World War II, and its impact on American culture.

My project is a narrative history of the unlikely 1939 Picasso exhibition put on by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago and its extraordinary effect on American culture. In the 1920s and 1930s, there was widespread American skepticism about Picasso and other radical European artists, despite years of effort to popularize them. But the Nazi campaign against modern art created a political imperative to defend their work and rescue it from Europe. Relying on wartime loans from Picasso's dealer, Paul Rosenberg, and other French sources, the Picasso show nearly didn't happen. But the loans got out and the show, backed by ingenious publicity, captivated audiences nationwide. Many borrowed works were subsequently bought by U.S. museums. Bringing to light the physical transfer of art to America during World War II, the story of the 1939 exhibition offers fresh insight into when and how the avant-garde shifted from Europe to the United States.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Cultural History

Public Scholars

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2018 – 4/30/2019