Porkins Policy Radio episode 70 Did the CIA Create Modern Art?

Today I discuss the history between the CIA and modern art, specifically focusing on the abstract expressionist movement. I discuss how the CIA used abstract expressionism as a propaganda tool against the Soviet Union. I begin at the end of WWII and explore how the CIA viewed painters like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and others as vehicles to promote liberty and free enterprise. I explain how the CIA began a concerted effort to promote and fund this movement to combat Soviet Realism and portray America as a bastion of freedom. I use writer Frances Stonor Saunders monumental book The Cultural Cold War as a reference point throughout the discussion. I focus on CIA agent Tom Braden’s efforts to use institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art and the Congress for Cultural Freedom to make abstract expressionism the premier form of American Art. Later I explore the ramifications of this relationship by talking about the ways in which this has influenced our views on contemporary, and how contemporary art has manifested in today’s age. I also emphasize the importance of art in a society and why we should not turn our back on it. The CIA’s influence on culture more broadly speaking is also explored. Later on I ramble on about a whole mess of things.

NOTE: Sorry for the abrupt ending of this weeks episode. We had some technical difficulties towards the end and unfortunately lost the last 30 minutes.

Download PPR episode 70

Show notes:

The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters

The Secret CIA Campaign to Influence Culture – Francis Stonor Suanders talk

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