Friday, November 5, 2010

Modern Art as a weapon

Does the painting above strike you as an oil-on-canvas mortar shell lobbed at the heart of communism?  
Turns out it was.  Though it's highly doubtful that Jackson Pollock ever intended it as such.  
Modern, avante garde, and abstract expressionistic art were not well regarded in the 1950s.  As pointed out in this article, President Truman certainly did not think highly of it.  Yet as the article goes on, we learn that the CIA saw a value in the wild new paintings of the time and not just as decorative hangings for the office in Langley.  
The intelligence agency fostered American and Western European modern art wherever it could, touting it as the product of creativity and expression in a free society, proving thereby that nothing of the sort could ever come out of the Soviet Union.  Oddly enough, many of the artists of the time were communist, in philosophy even if not in actuality. 
My brain is now busy conjuring up a scenario with a conservative, highball drinking CIA exec sitting in a room with Andy Warhol, the two of them trying to tolerate one another as they work together to preserve the American Way.

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