Before You Buy That Rothko - How The CIA Covertly Nurtured Modern Art As A Cold War "Weapon"

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog, 

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.

 

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called “Mummy’s museum”, Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called “free enterprise painting”). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

 

The museum was also linked to the CIA by several other bridges. William Paley, the president of CBS broadcasting and a founding father of the CIA, sat on the members’ board of the museum’s International Program. John Hay Whitney, who had served in the agency’s wartime predecessor, the OSS, was its chairman. And Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organisations Division, was executive secretary of the museum in 1949.

 

– From the excellent Independent article published in 1995: Modern Art Was CIA ‘Weapon’

Most of you will be aware of the oligarch bidding wars for high end art at recent auctions held by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. In fact, the feeding frenzy was so extreme, the top 10 lots accounted for almost $800 million alone. Some of these paintings are breathtakingly beautiful, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s, “L’Allée des Alyscamps.” Others, not so much. Such as this one by Mark Rothko, which sold for $46.5 million.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 10.17.39 AM

Unsurprisingly, the paintings which seem to be least inspiring were by artists who were covertly pushed by the CIA in the 1950’s as part of its cold war strategy. Mark Rothko, for example, was born in the Russian Empire in 1903 (modern day Latvia) and ended up in America in 1913. Being a Russian artist in America made him the perfect CIA tool, and apparently his art served that purpose unbeknownst to him. The CIA program was originally set up in 1947, under the not so covert division called the Propaganda Assets Inventory. You really can’t make this up.

In one of the most interesting articles I’ve ever read, we learn from the UK Independent in a 1995 article:

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 US 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 US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.

 

The existence of this policy, rumored and disputed for many years, has now been confirmed for the first time by former CIA officials. Unknown to the artists, the new American art was secretly promoted under a policy known as the “long leash” – arrangements similar in some ways to the indirect CIA backing of the journal Encounter, edited by Stephen Spender.

 

The decision to include culture and art in the US Cold War arsenal was taken as soon as the CIA was founded in 1947. Dismayed at the appeal communism still had for many intellectuals and artists in the West, the new agency set up a division, the Propaganda Assets Inventory, which at its peak could influence more than 800 newspapers, magazines and public information organisations. They joked that it was like a Wurlitzer jukebox: when the CIA pushed a button it could hear whatever tune it wanted playing across the world.

 

This was the “long leash”. The centerpiece of the CIA campaign became the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It was the beach-head from which culture could be defended against the attacks of Moscow and its “fellow travelers” in the West. At its height, it had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines, including Encounter.

 

The Congress for Cultural Freedom also gave the CIA the ideal front to promote its covert interest in Abstract Expressionism. It would be the official sponsor of touring exhibitions; its magazines would provide useful platforms for critics favourable to the new American painting; and no one, the artists included, would be any the wiser.

 

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called “Mummy’s museum”, Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called “free enterprise painting”). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.

 

The museum was also linked to the CIA by several other bridges. William Paley, the president of CBS broadcasting and a founding father of the CIA, sat on the members’ board of the museum’s International Program. John Hay Whitney, who had served in the agency’s wartime predecessor, the OSS, was its chairman. And Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organizations Division, was executive secretary of the museum in 1949.

Modern art fame, like so much else, was brought to you by the CIA, mainstream media and the Rockefellers.

He confirmed that his division had acted secretly because of the public hostility to the avant-garde: “It was very difficult to get Congress to go along with some of the things we wanted to do – send art abroad, send symphonies abroad, publish magazines abroad. That’s one of the reasons it had to be done covertly. It had to be a secret. In order to encourage openness we had to be secret.”

 

In 1958 the touring exhibition “The New American Painting”, including works by Pollock, de Kooning, Motherwell and others, was on show in Paris. The Tate Gallery was keen to have it next, but could not afford to bring it over. Late in the day, an American millionaire and art lover, Julius Fleischmann, stepped in with the cash and the show was brought to London.

 

The money that Fleischmann provided, however, was not his but the CIA’s. It came through a body called the Farfield Foundation, of which Fleischmann was president, but far from being a millionaire’s charitable arm, the foundation was a secret conduit for CIA funds.

 

So, unknown to the Tate, the public or the artists, the exhibition was transferred to London at American taxpayers’ expense to serve subtle Cold War propaganda purposes.

Of course, this stuff is still going on as much as ever, if not more so, and we can only begin to imagine how much modern American society is being covertly manipulated, duped and scammed by CIA propagandists. In case you need a few examples…

U.S. Officials Panic About Seymour Hersh Story; Then Deny His Claims Using Jedi Mind Tricks

Bankers for Hire – Former Bank of Baltimore CEO Admits He Worked for the CIA

Revelations from the Torture Report – CIA Lies, Nazi Methods and the $81 Million No-Bid Torture Contract

“Non-Official Cover” – Respected German Journalist Blows Whistle on How the CIA Controls the Media

Remember Zero Dark Thirty? Turns Out it was a CIA Propaganda Film After All

Of course, that’s just the very tip of the iceberg.

 

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Fukushima Sam's picture

Gosh, could this be a "conspiracy"?

ACP's picture

Now I know why every time I see a piece of modern art, I feel like taking a giant shit.

Billy the Poet's picture

"Man’s need of precise definitions rests on the Law of Identity: A is A, a thing is itself. A work of art is a specific entity which possesses a specific nature. If it does not, it is not a work of art. If it is merely a material object, it belongs to some category of material objects—and if it does not belong to any particular category, it belongs to the one reserved for such phenomena: junk.

“Something made by an artist” is not a definition of art. A beard and a vacant stare are not the defining characteristics of an artist.

“Something in a frame hung on a wall” is not a definition of painting.

“Something with a number of pages in a binding” is not a definition of literature.

“Something piled together” is not a definition of sculpture.

“Something made of sounds produced by anything” is not a definition of music.

“Something glued on a flat surface” is not a definition of any art.There is no art that uses glue as a medium. Blades of grass glued on a sheet of paper to represent grass might be good occupational therapy for retarded children—though I doubt it—but it is not art.

“Because I felt like it” is not a definition or validation of anything." -- Ayn Rand

 

 

"Just as modern philosophy is dominated by the attempt to destroy the conceptual level of man’s consciousness and even the perceptual level, reducing man’s awareness to mere sensations—so modern art and literature are dominated by the attempt to disintegrate man’s consciousness and reduce it to mere sensations, to the “enjoyment” of meaningless colors, noises and moods."  -- Ayn Rand

 

 

MisterMousePotato's picture

An excellent article on the subject of modern art:

http://archive.is/AG8n1

Oh regional Indian's picture

It's a wide and long tentacled octopussy, this CIA...

Ole Pablo admitted what a giant scam the whole art "movement"  and HE HIMSELF was and therefore obviously still is...

One more giant yewish SCAM...just like modern literature...it's all about debasement....debase debase debase...

https://aadivaahan.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/towers-of-baabel-and-levers-...

 

ThirdWorldDude's picture

For real ORI, what a 'shocker' it will be some 50 odd years from now when the world finds out CIA was also behind the rise of the porn industry and the push for promotion of LGBT 'rights' to come out of the closet and s(h)it at your dinner table...

Degrading moral values is NWO's ultimate goal because people without a moral compass act like headless chickens with no direction in life other than the opportunities they meet down the road. By destroying family as an institution and destroying moral values they'll create their perfect 'mini-me' citizen driven by ruthless greed and narcissistic self-interest. The perfect Yes-men to rule over!

NoDebt's picture

Think of all the artsy-fartsy types who worshipped modern art.  Looking down their noses and ridiculing anyone who didn't "get it".  They're SO clever, SO counter-cultural.  Ha!  They were worshipping the CIA the whole time.  Fucking fantastic.

 

Polonius's picture

Debasement.  As noted above, it's all about debasement.  This article is just a limited hangout.  Says nothing about the real purpose of modern art, which is debasement of natural human sensibilities.

Arnold's picture

Decades long Pump 'N Dump.

 

Brilliant.

GeezerGeek's picture

Calling that example 'art' reminds me of the Emperor's New Clothes. Someone told him his new outfit was great, and the emperor believed it. Someone else said 'that's great art', and people with more money than sense believed it.

OTOH, maybe I should ignore that guy who keeps telling us his sister makes $xxx per week online and suggests we visit some web site. If I can make not thousands, but millions, using MS Paint or GIMP then why settle for mere thousands? (Alas, I'm no WB7. Modern art like that is probably my limit.)

Urban Roman's picture

Hey, put a little brass plaque next to that shit, and you can be famous!

Ass Burger's picture

https://www.reddit.com/r/funny/comments/31jp81/my_friend_and_i_set_his_w...

"my friend and i set his watch and sunglasses down in an abstract art exhibit at the DMA"

HowdyDoody's picture

That would be classed as Modern Art. You could make millions - after your death.

Arnold's picture

Calder did have some engineering in his mobiles , though.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Calder

Tek Kinkreet's picture

Same as it ever was, just ask the Catholic church or the Medici.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Rothko offed himself in his studio.  Some say that "Blood Drippings on Canvas" was his best work.  

AIIB's picture
AIIB (not verified) New_Meat May 15, 2015 6:45 PM

Rothko... Yet another jew... So many cookie jars, so many hands, so little time

Pava's picture

don't get any wrong ideas tribe hater

TeamDepends's picture

Ha ha, all those pretentious art-fags WERE full of shit.

NotApplicable's picture

Dead Milkmen said it best.

GeezerGeek's picture

Dead Kennedys sang it best.

If you like hardcore punk, that is.

Katastrofenhausse's picture

Especially modern artist Piero Manzoni who sold cans of his own feces in 1961 as "art", maybe they used it to fertilize some vintage tulip bulbs.

http://www.pieromanzoni.org/EN/works_shit.htm

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/manzoni-artists-shit-t07667

Calmyourself's picture

The Van Gogh if you have not seen it is breathtaking.  Rothko just makes me want to shit on a palette.

 

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2015/impressionist-modern...

TeamDepends's picture

We said the same and also enjoyed the Monet.

Arnold's picture

Dogs Playing Poker.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogs_Playing_Poker

 

Elvis on Velvet.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velvet_Elvis

 

are more likely CIA funded.

I like them better though.

 

kowalli's picture

we are living in the matrix. Americans is living in the matrix for 100+ years...

ebworthen's picture

In the mid 1960's my Dad took a splatter painting my Sister Leslie did in Kindergarten and put it in a really nice frame.

He reversed her name and made a label with some groovy title, and told people visiting that it was from a new modern artist named "Eilsel" and that he had paid a lot of money for it.

His educated professional friends over for a cocktail party - marveled over how profound it was.

Cityzerosix's picture

There's an Elephant whose work is highly regarded, apparently.

JustObserving's picture

American exceptionalism is based on outright fraud and bubbles in stock, bond, real estate and art markets.  Anyone who paid $46.5 million for that Rothko has been had.  But there are enough greater fools in America to keep bubbles inflated indefinitely along with the myth of American exceptionalism

As they say in Hollywood - "No one has ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people."

A new book sheds more light on CIA operations that involved the Vatican and the Mafia:

 

Operation Gladio: The Untold Story of the Unholy Alliance Between the Vatican, the CIA, and the Mafia

After the Second World War ended, The Vatican, the CIA, the ex-Nazis, and the Sicilian/American Mafia forged an alliance to fight the Cold War against the former Soviet Union and the rising pro-Soviet governments in Europe and the rest of the world.

Consequently, the US intelligence agencies got drug lord Lucky Luciano released from jail, allowed him to build his narcotic empire, and simply watched the flow of drugs into the largely black ghettos of New York and Washington. The unholy alliance of the American spies and criminals was replicated everywhere, from Laos and Burma to Marseilles and Panama.

The first major attack in Europe took place on December 12, 1969 when a bomb went off in the lobby of Banca Nazionale Dell’ Agricoltura in Milan, Italy. Seventeen people died in the explosion. Within an hour, three bombs exploded in Rome. According to official figures, 14,591 acts of violence with a political motivation took place between January 1, 1969 and December 31, 1987. In these terror attacks, 491 people died and 1,181 were injured.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-untold-story-of-unholy-alliance-between...

 

 

kchrisc's picture

I mentioned to a Greek friend of mine, who thinks me nuts, that most, if not all "terrorist" violence in Europe from the 50s to the 80s was perpetrated by the Zionist controlled governments of the west; Including the violence in Greece. He just rolled his eyes at me.

Then his well respected Greek uncle mentioned it and gave it some weight. I recently listened to him unload all that he had found out, most of which I already knew, but he needed to share. His most telling comment was, "It is as if it [past 60 years of Greek history] were all a puppet show."

I have noticed that he is more apt now to listen than not to my pronouncements and warnings, especially about the current strife on "Zion's Greek farm."

Zion is slowly losing another to the light-side.

Liberty is a demand. Tyranny is submission..

 

Survey: Who is more stubborn? Greeks or the Irish?

blindman's picture

art is not eternal.
.
Tom Waits - The Briar And The Rose
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKpnZLU1sUk

New_Meat's picture

I always knew that this form of so-called "art" was an early fraud of the top 0.001 pct.

Don't cha' know.

-Ned

kchrisc's picture

The US was wounded in 1860. Killed by Zion in 1913. Resurrected as Zion's vampire, the DC US, in 1947.

Liberty is a demand. Tyranny is submission..

IndianaJohn's picture

Jibberish and scribble puddle pretending to be art. Don't mention price at all. Because that is a fraud too. http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2009/09/the-plot-against-art-part-1/

 

agent default's picture

CIA putting your tax dollars at work since 1947.

The funny thing is I always though this modern art thing was the best argument in favor of hard core totalitarianism.   Although, if you happen to have an abstract painting of an anti aircraft gun, I am interested. 

Cash, used, unmarked ,mixed $10 to $50 bills.

q99x2's picture

Calling William Bonzai 7

Who knew what the mistique could do.

It started with UNESCO founder Archibald MacLeish and Nightwood by Djurna Barnes editited by T.S. Eliot and probably written and edited with input from 5 other intellectuals.

"Calypso's Island" bitchez.

But yes there are suckers born everyday and should you find one of those priceless pieces of crap, pass it on to the next retard for $100 to prove that the spirit of man in art is immortal, and I'll stick with my tablets written on inconel sheets of metal, so hard that it will take the sun to destroy them. And, the CIA and the Q99X2 can live happily for ever after.

 

Platinum's picture

What about Andy Warhol? I can't imagine people actually take his work seriously.

Atomizer's picture

Picasso pawing just sold foe 147 million. Your new derivative scam. 

peanuts's picture

The CiA program was called Operation Long Leash and I think I first read about this about 8-10 years ago.  My father was a painter of some notoriety, and associated with Pollack, Motherwell, etc..  I know the Japanese loved my father's abstract paintings when he had his one man show in Tokyo in 1960 and he had no help from the CIA on that one.

kowalli's picture

problem is - you can't show your paintings without CIA approval to large audience

wwxx's picture

I would like to hear the story about how the CIA has manipulated ROTH & KEOGH IRA's since before 2007, and with the orchestrated ripoff in 2008, the agency used the proceeds not just for nakie tranny parties, nor various weapon component trades, but to bribe the LIBOR & commodities manipulators that are still playing the game to this very day.

 

wwxx

Coldfire's picture

"Modern" art is an excrescence. Unsurprised to see the CIA's grubby hands all over it. And over the pond, Picasso sucks donkey balls. His pictures of women make me believe in the existence of Satan.

BarbaricRelic's picture

Modern Art is a scam.
It is garbage.

Look up the "Art Renewal Center" - that's real art.

Dixie Flatline's picture
Dixie Flatline (not verified) May 15, 2015 7:34 PM

Yep, CIA modern art, fluoride, gmo's, chemtrails, this site has it all!