Revealed: how the spy agency used unwitting artists such as Pollock and de Kooning in a cultural Cold War
It's an interesting admission and so is their strategy. I, like many others, believe they were using ELVIS as a weapon quite literally and a very
powerful one, too. I think the whole sixties thing was being given an advantage covertly. The moral head wagging was more a smokescreen by media. We
all know about the debauchery going on behind the scenes; story after story about it.
It was actually most effective. I don't particularly mind that it was used in this way. I do like to be informed and know where I stand in this world
of illusion, however. If the CIA has done this, you bet there are truths in many conspiracies. They have never admitted to the use of the music
artists, but if they were using the less effective higher culture artists then obviously the ones with instant mass intense appeal like Elvis and
other music/movie celebrities are an H bomb in comparison to the A bomb of the painters. I guess the high culture artists worked on the intellectuals
and the mass culture pop stars worked on the masses to instil concepts of freedom.
I have always had a great interest in the Secret Services of our world. I could easily have done this as a career, but I am too honest and I care too
much about openness. One of the West's strengths is that it is more of an open book, yet there are many secret passages that we do not get to read.
They would never have tapped up a guy like me.
I do view the Secret Services as necessary because freedom depends on security when there are others who want to impose upon those values for their
own ends. However, at times it has become worryingly corrupted I believe. If only they knew how serious that is and how much we depend on them to
guard our welfare.
My gripe with them is that they did admit in a court room to the King family that they had been involved in taking Martin Luther King out. I also
worry that they had something to do with John Lennon's murder and Bob Marley's death. John and Bob were great freedom fighters in music with a world
audience. Both had a huge impact on minds. The CIA obviously has an interest in influencing minds (behaviour modification?) or they would not have
used artists to achieve influence to weaken their perceived enemy's ideology and hold. John and Bob had a different agenda and were actually having a
more powerful effect than politicians upon people's attitudes. I remember how big both were and how much people loved them at the time. Both died
within five months of each other just as Reagan and Thatcher unleashed the Beast of Free Market on the world.
Once they have lost their own voice the MSM make up a PC, revised, safe version of them and that is who the people relate to. Not me, though. I
REMEMBER EVERYTHING. They did the same to Yeshua Christ. They made a safe version of Him that they could make money out of. He became the long blonde
haired, blue eyed painting we see in all the Churches, far removed from the very hard hitting Hebrew Spiritual Revolutionary (among many other things)
we can read the first hand Words of in the Bible.
I know illusion for what it is and I know reality for what it is. Everything else is a murky grey "suspect" held in Purgatory for either one or the
PLEASE hold on to reality as a concept. The image is a lie. Search for the reality. Jesus, John, Bob and Martin would have all wanted you to go look
for them properly. I did and they rewarded me with some wisdoms you will NEVER learn from the authorities.
It is a world of shadows. Francis Herbert Bradley knew this long ago when he wrote about his "APPEARANCE AND REALITY" metaphysics. TS Eliot told me
about him in his writing. He also saw "the skull beneath the skin".
We already knew that though. The CIA put tentacles everywhere, now for whose benefit, that is debatable. For the "common good", my pockets, or my
power. Any combination of the them. What we are dealing with are the the later two, we lost the first one when JFK got his head blown off.
We all know about the debauchery going on behind the scenes; story after story about it.
Not sure that the CIA used art as a "weapon" except in such a metaphorical sense that the word "weapon" is almost redundant. A "tool" would be closer
to the truth, and a tool of cultural propaganda, at that.
The CIA's cultural propaganda was mainly a sort of counter-subversion.
E.g., they supported and promoted Jackson Pollock simply because his paintings were the diametric opposite of the art being exported by the Soviet
Union at the time. The Soviets were still heavily into naturalistic art, and their most famous works were huge life-like portrayals of Stalin being
handed flowers by devoted young Russian girls. The example below is Popkov's The Builders of Bratsk - a common Soviet topic, the digniity of
the labouring classes.
Compare with Pollock's Convergence:
The Soviets were intent on continuing (and to a degree, subverting) the Romantic tradition of art that flourished under the Tsars they had overthrown.
And a lot of their paintings were created by collectives, i.e., not by a single artist but by a collaborative group. So the CIA naturally went for
dynamic individualism instead, hence people like Pollock benefiting hugely from federal largesse.
I don't think the CIA was hugely interested in artistic merit for its own sake. Or at least if they were, the records don't seem to mention it. Maybe
I'm cynical, but I think the main thing about Pollock (staying with him as our example) was that his work was outrageous and confusing, and generated
lots of critical debate - it promoted itself, in other words, due to being so controversial.
Anyone who's interested in the cultural fronts of the Cold War should read
Who Paid the Piper? by Frances Stonor Saunders (link is to
amazon.com, I have no interests in sales of this book).
It's a subtle read, devoid of James Bond-style adventures and assassinations. But it does tell you a lot about how the CIA treats culture. If you're
interested in the CIA's penetration of the Hollywood studio system post-9/11, for example, you won't find much in Saunders' book - but you will come
away with a far greater understanding of the way the CIA piggy-backs its core values and messages into popular culture and remains undetected.
Bob Marley collapsed in Central Park and never performed again. He died shortly later. John Lennon was shot right near his home at the Dakota Building
adjacent to Central Park, within sight and walking distance of where Bob collapsed. Coincidences again.
The commies loved when our cultural tastes changed toward abstract art.
Communist Goals (1963) Congressional Record--Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all
good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms."
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. "Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."
Those quotes are from remarks made by Florida representation Albert Herlong, i.e., they are not any kind of statement by the US Government itself.
When you check them out (PDF) you'll see that among his other
bugbears are his beliefs that communists are behind the following:
* The promotion of homosexuality
* The 'doing away with' of oaths of loyalty
* The infiltration and takeover of TV radio and movies
* The discrediting of the Bible
* The elimination of prayer
* And (this is a big clue) a shadowy liberal conspiracy that was attempting to dismiss and disband
the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC)
Whatever noble ideals HUAC might have had to begin with, by the time Herlong was making the above remarks it had degenerated into a non-stop
witch-hunt claiming to detect a red under every bed. It's most notable for the interminable series of hearings in which Joseph McCarthy interrogated
witnesses. In 1959 former president Truman called it 'the most un-American thing in the country today' -- and I don't think anyone has ever accused
Truman of being a lily-livered liberal.
As Albert Herlong clearly states in his hair-raising remarks, he lifted his information verbatim from the pages of
a 1958 book called The Naked Communist by C.W. Skousen, a
far-right Mormon (later disowned and blacklisted by the Mormon church itself) who among other things claimed that FDR had treasonously sold nuclear
weapons material to the Russians, and that Sputnik had been built from blueprints stolen from the USA.
So yeah. Your statement that the USSR was pleased when the USA got into abstract art isn't based on anything but the ravings of a pair of nutcases.
I kind of like both of those. Arguably Popkov's painting displays more skill, but for me is also amplified by a strange nostalgia for a time I never
lived through, and an ideology I've never believed in. And the way we see Pollock's work is affected by it's fame too, it takes some skill to make it
look cool, but really it's true that anyone could have splashed around paint on a canvas and produced something comparable. It doesn't matter though,
someone had to do it, why not Pollock; most of contemporary abstract art is just banal, but 60 years ago it was novel (or at some point in the past,
If anything, I think the CIA funding adds merit to that art, in a weird way. Makes for an interesting provenance.
I'll hold my tongue on the question of Pollock's artistic value.
What I forgot to put in that illustrated post was the fact that the Popkov (which, like you, I find appealing) was created in 1960, by which time
Pollock had already been dead for four years. Which is an interesting gauge of how far US contemporary art had diverged from similar naturalist styles
to those of the USSR. For comparison, look at Edward Hopper, whose most famous work Nighthawks dates from 1942, so only a decade before
Pollock's fame peaked:
I have always harboured a suspicion that Pollock's non-figurative stuff appealed to the CIA because it represented a puzzle, a mystery, something that
need 'decoding' by the viewer. Not that there is any hidden meaning to his drip-painting (because there isn't any) but simply because that's how the
standard CIA officer's mind works.
Most of those bugbears have come to pass just as outlined by the 45 points. He could have came up with most of those points from anywhere, so what if
it was from the Naked Communist? He could have easily gotten all that from the Communist Manifesto and other sources. Much of that "take over from
within" talk comes from Antonio Gramsci's communist theories.
While firmly committed to global Communism, he knew that that violence would fail to win the West. American workers (proletariat) would never
declare war on their middle class neighbors as long as they shared common Christian values. So the Italian communist -- a contemporary of Lenin --
wrote an alternative plan for a silent revolution. The main weapons would be deception, manipulation and infiltration. Hiding their Marxist ideology,
the new Communist warriors would seek positions of influence in seminaries, government, communities, and the media.
Saul Alinsky then introduced Neo-Marxism in 1971. The idea became more popular during the 70s and gained influence with Alinsky's "Rules for
Radicals", a go to book for today's leftists. Obama and Clinton both were big fans of Alinsky's. What about President Truman, he was a Democrat wasn't
So what makes Albert Herlong, a southern democrat, such a nut case then? He admits the source of his material, that just sounds honest to me. What
about Skousen, an ex FBI agent? Being a a conspiracy-minded author and far-right Mormon that may have been kicked out of the LDS gives him some
credibility IMO. I was raised a Mormon and left the church when I grew older and decided that, although it had many good points, it was basically a
Christian cult with a false prophet/conman making it up.
What not try to form a real argument and present some documentation rather than smear the reputations of the people who presented the
edit on 9-10-2017 by MichiganSwampBuck because: added extra comments
edit on 9-10-2017 by MichiganSwampBuck because:
Most of those bugbears have come to pass just as outlined by the 45 points. He could have came up with most of those points from anywhere, so
what if it was from the Naked Communist? He could have easily gotten all that from the Communist Manifesto and other sources.
The bolded bit is where I realised it would be pointless to read any further, because I'm dealing with someone else's fantasy.
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