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This text documents the proceedings of the first meeting of the Continuation Committee of the Conference on Inter-American Relations in the Field of Art and is comprised of three sections: a summary of the proceedings; minutes of the two days of sessions; and an appendix listing selected arts organizations in Latin America. The summary explains that the Committee’s purpose was to condense the recommendations made at the first conference (held five months earlier) and to put a plan in place for carrying out a program of inter-American exchange. We are also told in the summary that this program will consist of three elements: publications on art; fellowships for exchanges; and a program of exhibitions. The minutes involve concrete plans, including the publication of a comprehensive survey of Latin American art, touring an exhibition of United States painting drawn from the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and financing fellowships for United States artists to travel to Latin America through the Guggenheim Foundation, and other sources. The Hispanic Foundation of the Library of Congress was given a major role in publications, proposing to invite Latin American artists to paint murals for the W.P.A., and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, was suggested as a source for organizing exhibitions of photography to travel to Latin America, among many other suggestions.
Prompted by the State Department’s Division of Cultural Relations, the first Conference on Inter-American Relations in the Field of Art was held on October 11–12, 1939, with the aim of deploying art to improve relations between the United States and Latin American nations. The Continuation Committee was formed as a result of the first conference with the goal of further refining their mission and setting it into motion. This document records the Continuation Committee’s first meeting, which was held February 15–16, 1940, at the State Department. Part of the United States government effort to increase its influence in the Western Hemisphere and check the spread of Fascism in the wake of World War II, was that the State Department called on museum directors, curators, artists, and other arts professionals in the United States for advisement by forming a program for inter-American exchange to be supported by the State Department’s Division of Cultural Relations. The Continuation Committee—the individuals who devised a program of inter-American exchange emphasizing publications, student and educator exchanges, and exhibitions—included representatives from the W.P.A., various museums, and the Library of Congress, among other institutions.