In 1943, under Nazi occupation, French artists gathered at a café on Rue Dauphine in Paris. Led by Gaston Diehl, they pushed back against Nazi ideology and its condemnation of so-called “degenerate” art. When the country was liberated, French citizens who had embraced Communism began their own assault on modern art, vilifying abstraction in favor of social realism. In response, in 1945, the first Salon de Mai was held, its agenda outlined by Diehl: “Escaping the attitude of sectarianism, serving as a catalyst for exploration, and [providing] an international platform for the meeting across countries and generations to enable all valuable efforts to restore the essential unity of man and the world.” This exhibition celebrates the sculptors and painters involved in the salon’s quest for artistic freedom. —C.M.