Research Programs: Public Scholars

Period of Performance

9/1/2018 - 4/30/2019

Funding Totals

$40,000.00 (approved)
$40,000.00 (awarded)

Picasso's Dealer: Paul Rosenberg and the 1939 Exhibition that Changed America

FAIN: FZ-261551-18

Hugh Eakin
Unaffiliated independent scholar

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.

Associated Products

Modern Family (Article)
Title: Modern Family
Author: Louis Menand
Abstract: Hugh Eakin’s new book, “Picasso’s War: How Modern Art Came to America” (Crown), isn’t really about Picasso, or about war, or about art. Its subject is the creation of a market for a certain product, modern art. One (mostly) good thing about the digital revolution, which is otherwise sucking us all into a plutocratic dystopia, is that the Internet has reduced the barriers to cultural production enormously. Many types of cultural goods are now much easier to make and much cheaper to distribute. You don’t need an investor to capitalize your production costs or a distributor to get your stuff before the public. You just need a laptop and a camera (and maybe an inspiration). And, no matter how small you are, you always open worldwide.
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Format: Magazine
Publisher: New Yorker

Picasso's War: How Modern Art Came to America (Book)
Title: Picasso's War: How Modern Art Came to America
Author: Hugh Eakin
Year: 2022
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: WorldCat entry (451498488)
Publisher: Crown
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 451498488