CAA 2020 “Exploring Fascism in American Art”
While important new scholarship on the history of American fascisms has emerged in recent years, recent panels on art and fascism have still failed to consider the American context. This session will ask whether Cécile Whiting’s 1989 assertion—that there were no fascist artists in America, only anti-fascist ones—still rings true. Whether or not American artists identified as fascist, how did they engage with the ideologies, aesthetics, techniques, and visual cultures of fascism?
This panel will investigate how the history of American art intersects with fascism, broadly defined. Specific topics could include the role of eugenics, xenophobia, and racialized nationalism in American art; the relation of Civil War memorials and the visual culture of Jim Crow to fascist propaganda; the aesthetics of the KKK and fascist sympathizers, and the visual culture of fascist political parties in Latin America. In keeping with CAA’s collaboration with the Committee of Women in the Arts, this panel especially seeks papers that address the role of women in producing and promoting art aligned with fascist politics, as well as how constructions of gender and sexuality intersected with those of race, ethnicity, class, age, and disability in furtherance of fascist ideologies. The panel also seeks papers considering American situations outside of the United States and those that consider a wide range of art and visual culture. In doing so, this panel will begin to define what “fascist art” could mean in an American context.