(Sur)real internationalism: Emigres, native sons, and ethical war creations

Christine Sylvester

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    A leading book on the history of surrealist artists in the, United States imbeds a subversive thought in the early pages of its introduction: “An amazing watershed in the history of art was in the making in the 1940s, mirroring, of course, larger global transformations.”’What is subversive about this seemingly unremarkable statement is the way it insouciantly pairs art with international relations, a pairing that many analysts in the IR field would not tend to draw in writings about the 1940s. The concerns of IR about that momentous decade center on World War II-its battles, commanders, competing ideologies, Allied tensions, strategies, bombs, treaties-and, after the end of the war in 1945, on the politics building to the Cold War. In this article, IR gets a history lesson from art history and theory-a lesson about global transformations of the interwar years through the 1950s that,, though appearing to take place outside the purview of the field, in fact play into, help shape, and are manipulated by IR preoccupations. It is a lesson, in particular, about elements of surrealism. that commingle with classical realism in the culture of early Cold War theory, ethics, and politics. It features unexpected crossovers of influence involving emigre surrealist giants such as Andre Breton and Salvador Dali, such abstract expressionist native sons in the United States as Jackson Pollock, and fathers of realist international relations E. H. Carr and Hans J. Morgenthau.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)219-247
    JournalAlternatives: Global, Local and Political
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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