Communists among artists ees there
ai'e in many professions but to maintain that modern art is the stronghold
°» Communists is not borne out by
evidencc. In fact pressure i.s brought
to bear on the relatively few modern
artists who art- Communists in em
"fort to get them to adopt the official
Socialist Realism style. That this pres-
J'»'<' is soft-pedaled in the' ease' eil a
jfcndful eil modern artists of great
tarne who are Communists simply
toeans that the- Party leadership is
Willing to close an eye to the work of
pttian of international reputation like'
pcasso in order to be able' tei claim
"s name as an adherent of the party.
Hut even in Picasso's case the Com-
munists wanted tei make' sure that his
j^eptance' as a member dill not me'em
"e acceptance of modern art. Gerasi-
JJov, President of the' Soviet Academy
'Art, after praising Picasso as a party
'"''"'XT. added bluntly, "but he' is
FREEDOM AND FAIR PLAY
THE AMERICAN WAY
!P discredit modern eirt as a whole
"•"ough references to the' artists' per-
JN conduct or affiliation with spe-
I "-' organizations is verj misleading.
L 0er I'llort to condemn modern art
t|- association she significantly eimits
y* obvious fact that every brand of
^o'ogy from the' most conservative
''K' most radical can he' found
nt''n[" modern artists. She also makes
.attempt tei evaluate objectively the'
^'"■i' of the alliliatiem of individual
I Ns with organizations such as those
tin' as Communist-front organiza-
the^i y tne Attorney General, giving
M v the impression that eell artists
tj0 ^erc members eil such organiza-
,V|IS are Communists or Communist
g^Pathizers. This use' eil the' Attorney
|)U er;'l's list runs counter to its steite'el
]„ P°«' which the Department of
tlce defines as established "for the'
^/"ice 0f tjje hc,.u]s 0f ,||(. i,,,],,,..,!
f0ftlltlve departments and agencies
iri 'IS(' in connection with requests for
feu Sation regarding employment or
e»lrllti0n ln employment of federal
stag:°yees." The Department further
8 that "the' nature' anel extension
of a membership in a designated organization is but one factor to be
considered in determining the qualifications of individuals lor employment
or retention with the federal government." It is clear from this that the'
very government agency which publishes this list is against the principle'
eif guilt by association, anel recognizes
the' danger of the indiscriminate use of
the' list without intelligent evaluation
eif the significance anel elate' elf the'
individual's membership in a designates! organization.
To juelge' the- merit of a work of art
and the contribution it makes to our
society by the personal conduct, the
persona] beliefs or associations of its
creator is to accept the standard eil
totalitarianism which can only conceive of art or any other manifestation
of the human mind as tools to be
nse'el lor or against the particular order
which they are enforcing. There have
always been individualists and dissenters among artists and the' world's
cultural heritage weiulel be greatly impoverished inele'e'el il the' weirk e>f such
eutists as Michelangelo, Perugino or
Courbet hael be'e'ii suppressed because
of objections to their personal conduct
It is obvious that the artists of a free
society must be responsible to the
laws enacted by this sne-ie'ty cre'ate'el
in eirele'r tei insure its continuation erne!
welfare. If an artist through his work
transgresses the law, hi' shemlel be'
prosecuted anel no responsible organization shonlel associate itself with his
transgression. But to suppress the
presentation of controversial material
in the' arts ees we'll ees any other field of
human endeavor is to destroy the very
basis eif freedom itself.
What greater comfort and encouragement can we offer to Communists
or Communist sympathizers in and
out of this country than to give substance to their accusations that we do
not practice the' principles of freedom
and lair play which we proclaim in
justifiable pride as our American heritage'':'
'Id appraise modern art and its role
in the' contemporary world, it is nec-
1'ssary tei understand its history and
what it stands lor. Ml new movements
grew out of a rebellion against aca
demic standards which seemed to the
eertists confining and oppressive. As a
typical product of modern free enterprise, art developed a great and
unprecedented variety of forms and
styles and gave the' individual a free-
elenn to ere'eite' eis he' never hael before.
It is this variety and individualism in
modern art that calls for and should
ere'eite' controversy, as controversy is
made possible by freedom of speech.
The assertion underlying the article,
that new anel unfamiliar art, our art of
today, is subversive and un-American
anil should be suppressed calls for
vigorous denial. I know no better way
of phrasing the need for freedom of
the' eerts than to quote a message sent
te> the- Museum of Modern Art last
fall on the occasion of our 25th Anniversary by President Eisenhower:
Tei nee', in this anniversary, there is a
reminder to nil of eis eif an important principle lh.it we should e've'r keep in mind.
Tin's principle is that Freedom of the arts
is ei basic freedom, one of the pillars elf
lihe'rty of our land. For our Republic to
stay fret-, those among us with the rare
Kilt of artistry must he able freely to use
their talent. Likewise' our people' must
have unimpaired opportunity to see, to
understand, tei profit frenn our artists' work.
As lone: as eutists eire- at liberty to te'e'l with
high persona] intensity, as lone.' as our artists an- tre-e' tei create with sincerity and
conviction, there will he healthy controversy and progress in art. Only thus can
there he opportunity for a genius to eon-
ceive anel to produce a masterpiece for all
mankind. Hut. my friends, how different it
is iii tyranny. When artists eere' meiele' the'
sleives and tools of the' state; whe-n eertists
become chiel propagandists of a e'eiuse,
progress is arrested anel creation and
genius are destroyed. . . . Let us resolve-
that this precious freedom of the arts,
the'se- precious freedoms eif America, will,
day by day, year by year, become ever
stronger, ever brighter in our land.
Objective observation of the history
of recent years reveals the tact that
wherever tyranny has taken holel eil a
people and a gewernment, modern art
hits been suppressed, but when tyranny is replaced by democratic freedoms, and artists are free to create
and people free' to use' their own judgment, modern art once' again emerges.
Communism, like all other political
systems based on tyranny, condemns
art forms that cannot be used eis weapons for its own ends, ft is for this
reason that the Communists hate and
fear modern art. end
*' professed internationalist ttsmilh
1''-rs at natioiialisiu. nt patriotism.
"I tn it-hat ice call "American',*,,,."
• hois ns forswear our tot-e of court.
y Hi the name t,f love nf the world at
. rge. lf'r nationalist* answer that . . ,
,_'* only the man who ardently loves
'* Country first who in actual practice
'" net/, an. other country at alt.
— Theodore Roosettct
Force never changed anybody's mind,
hut education and understanding have
won a lot of victories, even though
they lake longer.
— Charles E. Wilson,
lint icorils are thing* and a small drop
of ink. falling, like dew. upon a
thought, produce* that which makes
thousands, ju'rhap* million*, think.
— Lonn Bykon
Foreign policy i* too important to he
left to government alone. It must be
ha*ett on a fully informed public.
— Senator Th, f. Knowland
// there is any human force that
cannot he withstood, it i* the power *,f
the handed intelligence and responsibility of a free community.
— liKSiBV W. GRAM
ls Forum News, June, 1956