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kevbo's avatar

Would you believe the CIA used modern art to fight the Russkies?

Asked by kevbo (25603points) November 2nd, 2010

@Simone_De_Beauvoir, no offense intended

Interesting article on how the CIA elevated American Abstract Expressionism in the U.S. and abroad as part of its propaganda war against the left’s romance with Communism and Marxism and against sympathy for the Soviet Union in general. Seemingly, this ruse had to be hidden from America’s conservative faction since they, like any good conservative, despised taxpayer-funded, amoral trash.

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12 Answers

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Now, isn’t that ironic? It’s for the sake of those conservatives, to begin with.

josie's avatar

Much post Modern art is trash (especially Pollock).
But lets face it, De gustibus non disputandum est.
The CIA or the communists notwithstanding, no taxpayer should have to bear having their hard earned money used to fund art. If people like a politician, they will vote for them. If they like a painting, they will buy it.

wundayatta's avatar

I’m not getting something here. Just how does the elevation of Abstract Expressionism help the propaganda was against the Soviets?

Oh. I see. Propaganda wars. In particular, the fight to claim the ground for most creativity. Socialist Realism vs Abstract Expressionism. It was funded by the CIA, and yet the people who were the CIA those days were intellectual snobs (if only it were that way now) so they actually appreciated Abstract Expressionism, which, ironically, was being condemned by Joseph McCarthy as a communist plot, while at the same time it was actually being used as a capitalist plot.

You know, if this is all the damage the CIA ever did, I think they’d be considered the saviors of mankind. Instead they have go around overthrowing governmental leaders in all parts of the world, earning the US the undying enmity of the peoples of those nations in the process. The chickens have come home to roost, and they don’t look like Abstract Expressionism any more. They look more like body bags and PTSD and incomprehensible split in American unity.

jaytkay's avatar

There was also an overt use of jazz artists:

At the height of the ideological antagonism of the Cold War, the U.S. State Department unleashed an unexpected tool in its battle against Communism: jazz. From 1956 through the late 1970s, America dispatched its finest jazz musicians to the far corners of the earth, from Iraq to India, from the Congo to the Soviet Union, in order to win the hearts and minds of the Third World and to counter perceptions of American racism.Satchmo blows up the world: jazz ambassadors play the Cold War

breedmitch's avatar

Oh Josie, Josie, Josie…
It pleases me to no end that you feel that way about post Modern (sic) art,
because it allows me to believe that you just don’t get it and that because I do, I am superior to you. ~
There’s an amazing, I MEAN AMAZING, NY Abstract Expressionists exhibit at the MoMA right now. If you can sit in a room full of Rothkos and not feel moved, well you’re just not human. ;)

josie's avatar

Then I guess I am not human.
But here is the way I see it.
Imagine that an alien race comes to earth in the distant future. There is no remnant of the human species, no buildings, no skeletons, nothing-except creative objects that we call art. Imagine that these alien creatures attempt to render a moral judgement about this lost species. Would you rather that they cast their eyes upon Michaelango’s David, or a smear of paint by Mark Rothko?
Anyway, as I said, De gustibus non disputandum est.
I will now retire to the company of my fellow non humans.

lillycoyote's avatar

So… the story is… basically that Americans were such a bunch of provincial, small-mind philistines in the 50S and 60s, on top of the communist witch hunts of the less than freedom loving Senator McCarthy, that the CIA had to step in in order to:

”...demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union”


Wow! That’s kind of hilarious, supremely ironic and sad and pathetic all rolled into one.

breedmitch's avatar

@josie Hmmm…
You mean I can only choose one for the aliens to see? (lovin’ the hypothetical btw. cause everyone knows aliens make the best art critics)
Well I’d still choose the Rothko “smear” because assuming life on other planets is similar to our own, they would recognize David as a representation of an organism and would probably assume that it was in our image. (they might also incorrectly assume we are 15 feet tall)
In the Rothko the absence of any “thing” recognizable to them might lead them to assume that we had a higher intelligence and were capable of art that is purely emotional or art in which the expression of process is able to convey emotion without having to pander to…I don’t know…say…a mother holding a child, for example.

Let us not forget, that the worth of art is not based on what one prefers.
the Pollock room is too great for words. it saddens me that you don’t get it

josie's avatar

Don’t be sad.
I do get it.
Plus, give me a break.

breedmitch's avatar

break given

Blueroses's avatar

Why does this topic remind me of a joke?

Oh. Because it makes me laugh and there’s no convincing proof.

Nullo's avatar

Given how horrible so much of it is, I can’t say that I’m all that surprised. :D
We’ve got a sculpture here in town that would make for great shrapnel. They displaced the World War I memorial to put it in.

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