|Clyfford Still, PH-1123|
|Mark Rothko, Yellow Band|
I've included images of paintings I like, but their huge size makes reproduction pretty pointless. You can’t get what they were about unless you are, as Pollock said of his way of creating, inside the paintings.
The story of how the CIA backed abstract expressionism is now well known. The CIA thought – correctly – that the movement illustrated the personal and artistic freedoms that existed in the West in contrast to the sycophantic art of Russia. But the CIA knew that modern art was controversial and that the politicians were unlikely to approve of their operation, so they funded it covertly. “The New American Painting”, an exhibition that travelled around the world, was privately sponsored, but the sponsor’s money came from the CIA.
|Franz Kline, Andrus|
I wonder if the CIA evaluated their campaign? Abstract expressionism would have developed without them, although it may not have had quite as much exposure. Did the CIA persuade a single left-leaning artist who looked at Pollock, Rothko or Newman that life in the free world was better than in the Soviet Union? It’s hard to imagine the New York avant garde having any doubts. In 1956 Khrushchev denounced Stalin’s crimes and the Soviet invasion of Hungary put paid to any illusions about the superiority of Communism. Altogether, the CIA sponsorship of abstract expressionism may have been expensive and unnecessary.
|Rest After Battle (1955)|