ICYM: Modern art as CIA soft power

Jackson Pollock’s Cold War

Some of the best minds in Langley thought so reports The Independent.And I’m not so sure they were wrong to do so. Against communist governments that made totalizing claims on free expression, the U.S. government could legitimately deploy the freedom of expression embodied in the achievements of modern artists as an advantage of an open society. It was “soft power.” To aesthetes in Langley, a Jackson Pollock  paintings did not look child’s play. It looked like a strategic advantage in psychological warfare.

4 thoughts on “ICYM: Modern art as CIA soft power”

  1. In a similar vein:


    “During the Cold War, the CIA loved literature — novels, short stories, poems. Joyce, Hemingway, Eliot. Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Nabokov.”

    The efficacy of these programs is an interesting question, but they certainly displayed good taste in art and literature.

  2. The co-founder of the Paris Review was also CIA: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/05/peter-matthiessen-dead_n_5098524.html

    “While at Yale, he wrote the short story “Sadie,” which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, and he soon acquired an agent. After graduation he moved to Paris and, along with fellow writer-adventurer George Plimpton, helped found The Paris Review. (Matthiessen would later acknowledge he was a CIA recruit at the time and used his work with the Review as a cover).”

    Apparently, just about everyone was company in the ’50s and ’60s except you-know-who, at least according to our govt.

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