The world is strange.
Modern art was CIA 'weapon.'
Revealed: how the spy agency used unwitting artists such as Pollock and de Kooning in a cultural Cold War
By Frances Stonor Saunders, The Independent
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.
The connection is improbable. This was a period, in the 1950s and 1960s, when the great majority of Americans disliked or even despised modern art—President Truman summed up the popular view when he said: "If that's art, then I'm a Hottentot." As for the artists themselves, many were ex-communists barely acceptable in the America of the McCarthyite era, and certainly not the sort of people normally likely to receive U.S. government backing.
Why did the CIA support them? Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the U.S. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete....
READ ON at independent.co.uk
Exhibit Two: Strangest internet-flotsam photo seen lately:
(The caption on the site where I came across this was "WTF doesn't begin to describe this pic.")
Exhibit Three: The Soviets invented Photoshop.
Exhibit Four: Shoes are now being advertised as "airport friendly" (because they have no metal parts).
Exhibit Five: Retro-mining is a longstanding tradition in pop music, and every so often a hit comes along that's full of echoes—e.g. "When They Fight, They Fight" by the Generationals, straight out of the '50s. Or remember "Walkin' on the Sun" from 1997? Some artists build whole careers out of it—I remember an unintentionally funny quote by a guy named Lenny Kravitz, who said that guitar was dead—which is true if your thing is ripping off Hendrix licks!
I heard a pleasantly strange variation on the radio in the car last night. Try downloading the song "Witchcraft" by someone called Matt Costa (I know nothing about any of these people, by the bye). I'd heard of acid jazz before...but acid Merseybeat?!
(Thanks to David Emerick and Stan Banos)
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Charlie: "Concerning Exhibit 2, the horse peeking out of the hole in the ground was (no surprise) 'shopped in. It's an Internet meme, described in detail here. That article also mentions the woman in the picture, who is a minor Internet star and quasi-meme of her own. By the way—Rocketboom's 'Know Your Meme' site is a great place to check—along with Snopes, of course—when stumbling across Internet weirdness."
Mike replies: Thanks Charlie. Before this past weekend, I didn't even know there were whole sites on the internet devoted to nothing but weird pictures...what next, sites with just gossip about celebrities?!? :-)