Creativity, Conspiracy and Kickass Art – Subversive Streaks
Pretty, eye-popping visual propaganda orchestrated by America’s clever intel agencies. Abstract Expressionism is more than meets the eye. It was a geostrategic grand strategy to supplant the Soviet-styled commies, complete with subliminal signals and ideological optics. Capitalist art rules!
Today the Metropolitan Museum of New York (The MET) debuts a dope exhibition featuring Abstract Expressionism in all graphical and anarchical glory – an art insurgency born from the pyschotrauma and rubble of the second world war. “We felt the moral crisis of a world in shambles, a world devastated by a great depression, a fierce World War and a deprived art scene,” said Barnett Newman, a big shot paint-slinger who made linear, colorful grids he called “zips.” “We actually began…from scratch, as if painting were not only dead but never existed.”
Easels were too flimsy to adequately capture the human condition in all its ontological and existential machinations – and figurative painting could never adequately convey emotions like personal pain, anxiety, collective jitters, ideological fervor and political repression. Jackson Pollock ejaculated paint across ginormous mediums, Mark Rothko created huge works that were immersive meditations on color, emotion and insanity, and Carmen Herrera, a Cuban-American woman who didn’t come up until recently but produced an extensive oeuvre, made geometric pieces that reflect what she called a ”lifelong process of purification.”
At VIVISXN, we’re obsessed with the Abstract Expressionist movement, especially the wild (but totally true) notion that the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world since its inception. Why did the CIA support these creative freaks? Because in the propaganda war with the sinister Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket and utterly unexciting, could not compete.
Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the CIA, launched in 1947, set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 900 newspapers, magazines, museums and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.
The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidized the animated version of George Orwell‘s Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s international touring program. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, as gallery curators, auction house screeners and even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America’s anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism, and crushed the commies and their vapid artistic output. Fucking rad! Check out Frances Stonor Saunders‘ doc (below) on the topic. Wow!
Images The CIA + The Met – ‘Abstract Expressionism‘ Exhibit
VIVISXN MEDIA – Art + Fashion + Tech + Music + Pop Culture + 深度学习 + AI + Machine Learning + 音乐时尚 + 艺术 + 高科技 + 流行文化 + 大众文化 + 前卫艺术 + George Orwell’s Animal Farm + The Met + Abstract Expressionism and the CIA + FVEY + The Five Eyes + George Orwell + Anti-Communist Art + Barnett Newman + Carmen Herrera + Mark Rothko + DIA + Counter Culture and Espionage + The Cultural CIA + Frances Stonor Saunders