How modern art emerged 70 years ago from a CIA anti-Soviet strategy
In the last century, few crafts have changed as radically as the visual arts. Painting and sculpture was transformed by a radical shift in style. Traditionalism and aestheticism disappeared, replaced by abstract expressionism and postmodernity. But this didn’t happen by accident, or even organically: it was, at least in part, the deliberate product of social engineering.
In 1947, the U.S. State Department organised an international modern art exhibition titled, “Advancing American Art.” The purpose was to disprove Soviet claims that America was culturally inferior. One such Soviet claim was the phrase, “Загнивающий запад” which meant, “rotting West” and was used to describe the moral and social decline of the United States in particular.
The State Department’s efforts achieved precisely the opposite effect to the one intended. “If that’s art, I’m a Hottentot,” declared President Harry S. Truman. One congressman publicly denounced the show: “I am just a dumb American who pays taxes for this kind of trash.” The tour was cancelled. Humiliated, the U.S. Government devised a plan; the State Department was kicked off the project and the CIA was brought in.
Under normal conditions the CIA is supposed to be responsible for obtaining information from internal and external threats and deliver them to the U.S. President and his cabinet. Apparently Truman’s administration felt either embarrassed enough, or considered this matter enough of a national security risk, to involve the agency. Now the goals were to promote modern and abstract art, in order to make America seem more sophisticated and cosmopolitan and to make the Soviets look out of touch.
Former CIA man Tom Braden described the process. “We would go to somebody in New York who was a well-known rich person and we would say, ‘We want to set up a foundation.’ We would tell him what we were trying to do and pledge him to secrecy, and he would say, ‘Of course I’ll do it,’ and then you would publish a letterhead and his name would be on it and there would be a foundation. It was really a pretty simple device.” This is how, for example, the now-defunct Farfield Foundation came to be.
This article continues at [Breitbart] How Leftism And The U.S. Government Corrupted American Art