Cultural Offensive

Cultural Offensive : America's Impact on British Art Since 1945

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The vibrant fine arts and mass culture that the United Stated exported to Britain in the postwar period had a powerful and far-reaching impact on many British artists, art students and critics. In a fascinating social and cultural history covering the period from the 1940s to the 1990s, but with emphasis on the 1950s and 1960s, John A. Walker offers a scholarly but accessible account of America's Cold War cultural offensive and the role played by American artists living in Britain.

This is the first text to document in detail the variegated responses of British artists to postwar America and its art, criticism and mass media. Their reactions that ranged from Americanism - enthusiasm and compliance - to Anti-Americanism - criticism and resistance. Covering significant art movements such as Abstract Expressionism, the Independent Group and Pop Art, Walker synthesises information from hundreds of published sources and interviews to paint a vivid picture of a crucial period in British culture.

Many of the critics, painters and sculptors featured - Lawrence Alloway, Peter Blake, Reyner Banham, Anthony Caro, Clement Greenberg, David Hockney, Richard Hamilton, R.B. Kitaj, John Latham, Claes Oldenburg, Eduardo Paolozzi, Herbert Read, Bridget Riley, Larry Rivers - are now internationally famous. The study is brought up to date with an overview of the decline in American influence during in the 1980s and 1990s and the rise of Brit Art.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 142 x 223 x 24.9mm | 576.07g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0745313213
  • 9780745313214

Table of contents


1. First Encounters with Post-war America and American Culture: the 1940s

2. The ICA, the IG and America during the 1950s

3. The Impact of Abstract Expressionism during the 1940s and '50s

4. Abstraction and Pop in Britain during the 1960s

5. The Lure of America: British Artists in the United States

6. Over Here: American Artists in Britain

7. Criticism and Resistance

8. The Decline of American Influence and the Rise of BritArt


Notes and references


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Review quote

'Highly accessible for artists and non-artists alike' -- Preview
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