The success of the event's first decades were challenged by turbulent global conditions from the 1920's through the end of World War II. During the years that Homer Saint-Gaudens directed the exhibition, he had to continually deal with chaotic political changes in Europe and resistance and outrage at home.
In addition, New York critics
tended to see the International as a provincial operation just because
of its location.
these circumstances, under Saint-Gaudens' direction, the International not
only survived, but grew into a widely reviewed, and often controversial,
exhibition. He increased its scope and importance as well as its appeal
and attendance. He also worked to remedy the ill-will that had accumulated
over the years between artist and the jurors that selected the works for
the Carnegie event. He established a jury in Europe (previously works had
to be sent to the U.S. at considerable expense simply to be judged), and,
more importantly, he allowed artist to make their own choices as to which
artworks to send.
Having soothed the artists, Saint-Gaudens next quietly introduced more "radical" artists to American viewers by selecting the most innocuous works by such artists as Andre Derain, Henri Matisse, and Pablo Picasso.
A process for selecting, judging and exhibiting art work was set in a yearly rhythm: advisory groups recommended artists in the winter; Saint-Gaudens traveled to Europe in the early spring to visit studios; the selected works were shipped in July, and the jurors (usually two from Europe) arrived in late August to award prizes. The show opened in October.
The procedures Saint-Gaudens put in place lasted until 1939, and were reactivated in 1950, after World War II.