The first online tour of the CIA’s abstract art collection

CIA abstract artA reminder that, conspiracy theories aside, the CIA does seek to embody and shape the American culture to advance its secret intelligence mission.

“It’s more politically significant than it appears,” says Hyperallergic, “and there are still unanswered questions.”

In 1968, notorious art collector Vincent Melzac — who was also a catfish farm owner, salon chain magnate, Arabian race horse breeder, and former Corcoran Gallery chief — loaned a series of abstract paintings to the CIA. All were by artists affiliated with the Washington Color School, a post-war movement based in DC, known for their stripes, polka dots, and color fields on canvas.

The article is rightly dismissive of the unfounded conspiracy theory that Mary Pinchot Meyer, a painter in the Washington Color School and lover of President Kennedy, was murdered by the CIA.

The evidence for this theory, offered in the latest edition of Peter Janney’s book Mary’s Mosaic, is weak and speculative at best.

This pro-American aesthetic is what makes the Melzac Collection blend in with the rest of the agency headquarters’ self-referential decor. Most of this decor is, of course, patriotic, often to the point of self-parody. It’s also full of dissonant juxtapositions. In the glass atrium of the New Headquarters Building, black models of CIA aircraft hang from the ceiling like ominous mobiles. In a nearby corridor, a lacquered lavender poster features a quote from Thich Naht Hahn, a Buddhist monk famous for his peace activism during the Vietnam War.

Source: A Visit to the CIA’s “Secret” Abstract Art Collection



From a 5-Star Amazon review of Jefferson Morley’s CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files,

“Can’t imagine a more meticulous take down of the CIA’s decades-long subterfuge surrounding the assassination.”

Jefferson Morley’s new ebook, CIA and JFK: The Secret Assassination Files, available on Amazon, provides the fullest account of the role of CIA operations officers in the events leading to the death of JFK, with a guide to what will be declassified in October 2017.



1 thought on “The first online tour of the CIA’s abstract art collection”

  1. Yes, the murder of Mary Meyer is a red herring in my opinion in terms of the assassination of JFK. I suspect the fact that James Angleton turned up in her house after she was murdered, which action he was later to repeat after the death of Winston Scott, caused and fueled much of the suspicion and speculation in the Meyer case.

    On a separate note, RIP Tom Hayden, what a tremendous contribution he made to protest movements in the US.

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