Modern Art, Hipster Doofuses, And How The CIA Tricked The Russians
Submitted by: lalapancakes⚫ 11 months ago
Back in 1995, the UK’s Independent did an extensive piece outing the CIA for manipulating modern art of the past specifically like Jackson Pollock (work seen above) and many modern jazz artists, the general film industry, and writer/publishing houses. According the the Independent, the gist of the CIA’s plan was to irk Russia by supporting modern art.
Supposedly by showing Russia the “American way” to true freedom of expression, intellectual freedom, and to show them how America surpassed them in cultural power and art during the Cold War as kind of upper-crust “nya nya nya boo boo, stick your head in doo doo.”
“Until now there has been no first-hand evidence to prove that this connection was made, but for the first time a former case officer, Donald Jameson, has broken the silence. Yes, he says, the agency saw Abstract Expressionism as an opportunity, and yes, it ran with it.”
"In a way our understanding was helped because Moscow in those days was very vicious in its denunciation of any kind of non-conformity to its own very rigid patterns. And so one could quite adequately and accurately reason that anything they criticised that much and that heavy- handedly was worth support one way or another."
"We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, 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.”
In the piece the Independent claims the CIA was behind American Abstract Expressionism fueled by beatnik Harvard and Yale grads who became agents at the time. Apparently the CIA back then was some weird hipster mesh of passive aggression and (potentially) an appreciation for mustache wax. William Paley is also just casually pointed out to not only be the president of CBS but also a founding father of the CIA, too.
This story insinuates there was only one time the feds were involved in using media and art to manipulate an external target but I find it hard to believe the CIA ever stopped.