The Abstract Expressionists emerged from obscurity in the late 1940s to establish New York as the centre of the art world – but some say they became pawns of US spies in the Cold War.
For decades in art circles it was either a rumour or a joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly – the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years.
For years there have been persistant rumours that CIA agents helped fund the rise of the America’s Abstract Expressionism movement – the 50s and 60s period of cultural dominance that saw the likes of Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko rise to the fore. Now, The Independent reports, former CIA agent Donald Jameson has come clean about the agencies role in promoting American art on a global stage, all as part of the drive to portray America as a free thinking, culturally rich opposite to the heavily censored, centrally managed Soviet empire.
“Debase Art and Make it Run Mad: Promote new forms of art which will corrupt and defile the imagination of people because art is the language of the spirit, that which is inside, you can bring out in painting, music, drama etc.” ~ Alice Bailey