American Abstract Expressionist art was CIA psyop. The CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) secretly funded a group called the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) during the Cold War. The CCF was an international organization founded in 1950 that aimed to promote cultural and intellectual freedom and combat the influence of communism in the arts and academia. The CIA provided financial support to the CCF as part of its efforts to counter the spread of communist ideology and maintain influence in various spheres during the Cold War.
Former CIA officials admitted this during the ’90s, confirming that the agency used abstract art by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and others to promote American culture during the Cold War. The intent was to portray America as a bastion of intellectual and creative freedom. This was to rebut Soviet assertions that the U.S. was “culturally barren”, and to contrast the cultural confinement of the Soviet empire, where artists had been restricted to painting Soviet realism since the 1930s. Abstract Expressionism was seen as the most free and extreme form of artistic expression – the antithesis of Soviet rigidity. Modern art therefore became a weapon in the cultural war against communism.
Beginning in the 1950s, the CIA secretly funded a group called the Congress for Cultural Freedom, through which it funneled money to international art shows, and literary magazines and operated dozens of offices around the globe – all with the explicit goal of promoting American Abstract Expressionism.
The CIA’s involvement in funding organizations like the CCF was part of a broader strategy known as cultural diplomacy, which aimed to use cultural and intellectual activities to shape public opinion and win hearts and minds around the world. While some of the CCF’s activities were indeed aimed at promoting cultural and artistic freedom, the fact that it received funding from a U.S. intelligence agency was not widely known at the time and has been a subject of controversy and debate.
The revelation of the CIA’s involvement with the CCF and other similar organizations has raised questions about the ethics and implications of such covert funding for cultural and intellectual endeavors. These revelations are part of the broader history of the CIA’s covert activities during the Cold War, which extended beyond traditional intelligence and espionage into various forms of influence and propaganda.