French Modernisms: Perspectives on Art before, during and after Vichy

 (Cambridge University Press, 2001)

This thoughtful and engaging study is neither a diatribe nor a prolonged lament. Rather, it’s a series of straightforward, loosely linked essays exploring the complex relations between the Vichy government and the world of art and design - and their repercussions today. Cone’s non sensationalist tone makes her observations seem all the more startling, as we see not only venality in action, but also naivete, self-interest, and survival as motivations.
— Barbara A. MacAdam, Art News November 2001
A must read for those working on the Vichy period and its aftermath.
— Peter Schulman, SubStance vol. 32. no. 3, 2003
Having started her history with Hitler and Vichy, Cone fittingly ends it with de Gaulle and May ‘68 - not to draw parallels between these authoritarian regimes, but to point out how minimal information on the Nazi Occupation, together with little memory of the Holocaust can engender what she calls “a dangerous confusion.” Without exposure to the new histories to which she herself has so substantially contributed, different forms of authoritarianism risk being conflated as Fascism. While the May ‘68 posters of Hitler disguised as de Gaulle signaled students’ equation of the Resistance leader General de Gaulle with Hitler, French students ignored the Fascist reality of Vichy and Pétain - even though, as Cone incisively points out, its was Pétain, not de Gaulle, who was an accomplice to Hitler’s atrocities.
— Fay Brauer, Art History, June 2002
The starkness of Cone’s categories leads her to a dark view of artists whose political commitments have been more ambivalent than vicious, resulting in a more hostile assessment of French abstraction than is warranted. The point, however, does not invalidate her larger claim — that the French art world was crisscrossed by powerful, conservative currents that attempted a synthesis of national tradition and modernist technique. It is an argument that deserves further research.
— Philip Nord, Modernism/Modernity, 9/1/2002
Her book is good to think with, about the continuities and discontinuities of the Third Republic, Vichy, and the postwar era in the politics of French culture.
— Herman Lebovics, The Journal of Modern History, December 2003

Artists under Vichy: A Case of Prejudice and Persecution

(Princeton University Press, 1992), a revised version of a Ph.D. thesis entitled Art and Politics in France, 1940-1944 (UMI, 1988).

A remarkable, eye opening study...
— Publishers' Weekly, January 20, 1992
A significant, insightful, scholarly study recommended for art museums, and academic libraries...
— Joan Levin, Library Journal, February 1, 1992
Though Ms. Cone does not presume to lift the final veil from the imponderable factors affecting individual choices during the occupation, her admirable, detailed record documents exactly what those choices were.
— Sarah Boxer, New York Times Book Review, October 11, 1992
Michele C. Cone’s Artists under Vichy: A case of Prejudice and Persecution is a fine and subtle work that examines how Nazism’s antimodernist policies took effect in France.
— Willibald Sauerlander, The New York Review of Books, April 21 1994
Cone’s book offers much valuable information; it does no disservice to say that in the end it makes a greater contribution to art history than to history tout court.
— Daniel J. Sherman, French Politics & Society, Vol I. no.3 (Summer ,92)
There is, quite clearly, much new and valuable information contained in the book, much of it surprising even for those who are familiar with the occupation period.
— Jane Fulcher, American Historical Review, October 1993
Cone demonstrates that critics actively and artists tacitly participated in the purge [of Jews and foreign artists], the former by following the Vichy line, and the latter by taking part in exclusionary exhibitions…. Yet Cone skirts the issue of what constituted collaboration for an artist. Was Henri Matisse a collaborator because he continued to exhibit his work under conditions of exclusion about which he cannot have been ignorant? How are we to regard the group of artists who agreed to make a tour of German cities sponsored by the Nazi Ministry of Propaganda, a group that included Maurice Vlaminck and André Derain whose works had been banned from German museums?
— Martica Sawin, Art Journal, Spring 1993
Artists under Vichy offers us a good deal of information, it also casts some of the information already known to us in a new light. Yet there is a curious diffidence in this book – a refusal to believe the worst about people that the author is disposed to think well of – that weakens its account of a terrible period and immures the whole chronicle in a blandness that seems particularly inappropriate to the material…
What is in some respects most fascinating about the book is its account of the kind of specious normalcy that was so quickly established in the Paris art world under the Occupation.
— Hilton Kramer, The New Criterion, March 1992
Well documented and carefully illustrated, this survey lights up unchartered areas of cultural history, opening further avenues for research.
— W.D. Halls, French Studies, vol. 47
In this fascinating exploration of visual artists under the Occupation, the author Michele Cone is perhaps more honest than many others in acknowledging the judgmental edge of her research and conclusions. The preface sets out a stimulating mix of intellectual theory and morality. I found it refreshing and promising.
— H.R. Kedward, British Journal of Aesthetics, October 1993
Cone extends the ongoing debate over art under totalitarianism in the 20th century to the little explored field of painting and politics in the early forties.
— Rima Drell Reck, L’Esprit Créateur, vol. XXXIII no.1
In this well-researched and beautifully produced book, Michele Cone explores the complex response of the French art establishment to Nazi rule and the Vichy regime during the Occupation of France from June 1940 until the liberation of Paris in August 1944.
— Nancy Fitch, The Journal of Modern History, Vol. 67, no. 4, Dec. 1995

Articles, Essays, Book Reviews

  • “Did Maratier Save Gertrude Stein’s Art Collection during Vichy?” Modernism/Modernity, Forums/Interventions, (November 21, 2017)

  • “Francis Picabia’s War” Francis Picabia: Ours Heads Are Round so Our Thoughts Can Change Direction at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA, 2016) 

  • “From a Nation Torn” Book review of From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France, 1945-1962 by Hannah Feldman, American Historical Review Vol 119, No. 5, (Winter 2014-15)

  • “The Art of War” Book review of Art and the Second World War by Monica Bohm-Duchen in Art In America Vol. 102, No. 11, (December 2014)

  • “Killed by Matisse in 1941, Courthion’s interviews are resurrected” Art in America online (June 18, 2013)

  • “Leo Castelli’s First Steps In the Art World: A Surrealist Event in Paris Opens on July 5, 1939” Artnet Magazine (July 2010) 

  • “Secrets of the Mexican Suitcase” Artnet Magazine (October 15, 2010)

  • “Exhibiting with the Enemy” Book review in Art in America Vol. 97, No. 4, (April 2009)

  • “Overcoming a Tainted Past: Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco, l’Oubli du Fascisme”  Book review in TELOS: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 146, (Spring 2009) 

  • “Remembering Arno Breker: My visit to Hitler’s Favorite Sculptor” Artnet Magazine (July 31, 2006)

  • “Matisse and the Nationalism of Vichy 1940-1944” Artnet Magazine (December 19, 2005)

  • “The Early Career and Formative Years of Pierre Restany” The Florence Gould Lectures (Volume VI, 2002-2004)

  • “Fascist Furnishings” Exhibition Review in Art in America Vol. 91, No. 4, (April 2003)

  • “Wartime Gilt: French Furniture of the ‘40s” Exhibition Review in Art in America Vol. 87, No. 9, (September 1999)

  • “Circumventing Picasso: Jean Paulhan and his Artists” Picasso and the War Years 1937-1945 at the Guggenheim Museum (Thames & Hudson, 1998) 

  • “French art of the Present in Nazi Berlin” The Art Bulletin Vol. 80, No. 3, (September 1998)

  • Dictionary of World War II: The Occupation, Vichy and the Resistance 3 entries, and numerous citations (Greenwood Press, 1998)

  • “Decadence and renewal in the decorative arts under Vichy” Fascist Visions: Art and Ideology in France and Italy (Princeton U. Press, 1997)

  • “Preparing for Vichy” Book review of in Art in America Vol. 84, No. 5, (May 1996)

  • “Vampires, Viruses and Lucien Rebatet: Anti-Semitic Art Criticism during Vichy” The Jew in the Text: Modernity and the Construction of Identity, edited by Linda Nochlin (Thames & Hudson, 1995)

  • “Memorial to Walter Benjamin by Dani Karavan” Sculpture Vol. 14, (March/April 1995)

  • “The Mature Germaine Richier, the Young César: Expressionist Confluences in French Postwar Sculpture” Art Journal Vol. 53, No. 4, (Winter 1994)

  • “Memorializing the Holocaust” Book review of The Texture of Memory: Holocaust Memorials and Meanings by James E. Young, Art Journal Vol. 53, No. 1, (Spring 1994)

  • “‘Abstract’ Art as a Veil: Tricolor Painting in Vichy France” Art Bulletin Vol. 74, No. 2, (June, 1992) 

  • Le regime de Vichy, l’Occupation Nazie et la Critique d’art: L’art et les Revolutions Changements et continuité dans la création artistique des révolutions politiques Section 2 (Congrès international d’Histoire de l’Art, Strasbourg, 1989)

  • “Desnos, Picasso, Girodias, trois comparses de fortune” L’Herne: Robert Desnos (L’Herne, 1987)

  • Interviews with the Nazi sculptor Arno Breker and with WWII French artists are on tape at the Columbia Libraries