So I’m searching through the New York Times archive, trying different combinations of keywords to find references to photomurals at the Museum of Modern Art, and I find this intriguing 1934 headline:
TWO FORSAKE ART TO FOUND A PARTY; Museum Modernists Prepare to Go to Louisiana at Once to Study Huey Long’s Ways. GRAY SHIRT THEIR SYMBOL Young Harvard Graduates Think Politics Needs More ‘Emotion’ and Less ‘Intellectualism.’
But the Times’ archives purchasing has been acting up for a few months [it’s not just me, right?], and my 10-pack of articles has been stuck at five since October, so I can’t click through to see who these Museum Modernists are.
And a couple of weeks ago, I could have searched the rest of the internet and not found the answer, but now that Google has added the complete run of Spy Magazine, a search for “Museum Modernists” and “Huey Long” turns up one result: the devastating 1988 Spy article by Michael Sorkin detailing the fascist and Nazi activities of the young Philip Johnson.
I mean, holy crap. Gray Shirt Their Symbol barely scratches the surface. Johnson’s fellow modernist was Alan Blackburn, the Museum’s executive director. As MoMA’s archive puts it, “Both Blackburn and Philip Johnson resigned from the Museum in December of 1934 to pursue outside interests.”
Those interests ranged from donating large sums of money to and founding a youth wing for raging anti-semitic demagogues such as William Lemke and Father Coughlin to spying for the Nazis during the invasion of Poland.
Where was Philip? Spy, Oct. 1988 [google books]
Here’s an image of the Times article and photo. Amazingly vague. [uncommonplace book]