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The CIA and . . . . Jackson Pollock??!

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COMMENT: It is interesting to ponder the legacy of the Cold War as it applies to contemporary American culture and society. The degree of national security involvement with the essence and foundation of our society would shock many. Involved with academia, journalism, domestic electoral politics, as well as national diplomatic and military policy, the intelligence community exerts far more influence over our “free” society than many believe.

A good discussion of the dominant presence of CIA in the world of American letters and intellectual life is presented in The Cultural Cold War.

In an article for the Independent [UK], Frances Stonor Saunders notes CIA support for abstract expressionist art and its primary exponents, including Jackson Pollock.

How many other elements of our “free” society are actually being determined by the denizens of Langley and/or some other element of “alphabet soup?

“Modern Art Was CIA ‘Weapon’ ” by Frances Stonor Saunders; The Independent [UK]; 10/22/1995.

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. . . .

. . . . 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, rumoured 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 organizations. 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. . . .


4 comments for “The CIA and . . . . Jackson Pollock??!”

  1. I often wonder what it would be like to live in a world that wasn’t F—ed with all the time. Where nature could take its course and we wouldn’t be constantly herded to buy “product”.


    Posted by plexiglass shark | October 21, 2014, 6:57 pm
  2. Charles R. Crane founded the Institute of Current World Affairs in 1925.

    ..quoting wikipedia for expediency:

    “Biography and diplomatic activity[edit]
    He was the eldest son of plumbing parts mogul, Chicago manufacturer, Richard T. Crane. In the 1900s, he brought Thomas Masaryk, Maksim Kovalevsky and Pavel Milyukov to lecture at the University of Chicago. After meeting Masaryk, he became interested in Slavic nationalism and sponsored The Slav Epic paintings by Alphonse Mucha[1] When Mucha designed the Czechoslovak bills, he used a previous portrait of Josephine Crane Bradley as Slavia for the 100 koruna bill.[1]

    President William Howard Taft appointed Crane minister to China on July 16, 1909,[2] but on the eve of his departure to his post on October 4, 1909, he was recalled to Washington and forced to resign under pressure by U.S. Secretary of State Philander C. Knox,[3] who held him responsible for the publication in a Chicago newspaper of the U.S. government’s objections to two recent treaties between Japan and China.[4][5]

    Charles R. Crane (left) and James Farley stand behind Franklin D. Roosevelt in Warm Springs, Georgia, December 7, 1931.
    Crane contributed heavily to Woodrow Wilson’s 1912 election campaign. Wilson rewarded Crane with appointments to the 1917 Special Diplomatic Commission to Russia, known as the Root Commission, as a member of the American Section of the Paris Peace Conference, and to the 1919 Inter-Allied Commission on Mandates in Turkey that became known as the King-Crane Commission. While the commission was originally proposed by the U.S. to develop an international consensus on the future make up and status of post-WWI Middle East nations, the commission quickly became a U.S.-only sponsored effort. With the appointment of Crane as co-head of the commission, it set about to issue a report to inform U.S. policy makers.[6] In respect to the creation of a Jewish state in the Middle East, the report cautioned “Not only you as president but the American people as a whole should realize that if the American government decided to support the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, they are committing the American people to the use of force in that area, since only by force can a Jewish state in Palestine be established or maintained.” Crane opposed the establishment of a Jewish state in the Middle East,[7] but was as passionate a spokesman for the independence of the Arab states.[8]

    Crane was appointed U.S. Minister to China by President Wilson and served from March 22, 1920, to July 2, 1921.

    In 1925 Crane founded the New York-based Institute of Current World Affairs. The institute employed field representatives in Mexico, Jerusalem, and occasionally Moscow, who representatives compiled regular reports on developments in their regions, and shared their expertise during ICWA-sponsored lecture tours of major U.S. universities. The reports were also made available to the U.S. State Department.

    In 1931,Crane helped finance the first explorations for oil in Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He was instrumental in gaining the American oil concession there.[9]

    He was also a member of the famous Jekyll Island Club (aka The Millionaires Club) on Jekyll Island, Georgia.

    The 1930s[edit]
    Crane was virulently anti-Semitic. He expressed his animosity towards Jews in meetings with his business and diplomatic contacts as well as in social situations. When Franklin Roosevelt appointed William E. Dodd American ambassador to Germany in 1933, Crane wrote Dodd a letter of congratulation that told him:[10]

    The Jews, after winning the war, galloping along at a swift pace, getting Russia, England and Palestine, being in the act of trying to seize Germany, too, and meeting their first real rebuff, have gone plumb crazy and are deluging the world—particularly easy America—with anti-German propaganda. I strongly advise you to resist every social invitation.

    Crane admired Adolf Hitler and had no objection to how the Nazis were treating Germany’s Jews. He told Dodd: “Let Hitler have his way.”[10]


    Roger Reynolds broke through his mediocre career track as a defense contractor engineer by being recruited by the ICWA during the Vietnam War and establishing his base in Japan from 1966-1969. He kept his relationship with the ICWA active and current throughout his career.



    Reynolds had studied with Ross Lee Finney of the University of Michigan – Finney was OSS.

    from wikipedia:

    Systems Development Engineer and Military Policeman

    After completing his undergraduate, he went to work in the missile industry for Marquardt Ramjet Corporation (Marquardt Corporation). He moved to Van Nuys, near Los Angeles California, and worked as a systems development engineer.

    Return to University of Michigan: encounter with Ross Lee Finney

    Reynolds returned to Ann Arbor in 1957, prepared to commit himself to life as a pianist. He was quickly diverted from this path upon meeting resident composer Ross Lee Finney, who introduced Reynolds to composition.[5] Reynolds took a composition for non-majors class with Finney, and learned compositional techniques with Finney’s graduate assistant. At the end of the semester, Reynolds’ string trio was performed for the class. According to Reynolds,

    Finney just decimated it. … I mean, everything about it, he destroyed. The sounds, the time, the pitches, the form, everything was wrong. I was chastened.[14]

    Despite the harsh introduction, Finney pulled Reynolds aside after the performance and recommended that he study composition over the summer. These summer lessons proved to be brutal. But when Reynolds was nearly ready to quit, at the end of the summer, Finney responded positively to what Reynolds brought in.[14] Reynolds was engrossed by composing music, but he was still unsure what it meant to be a composer in America. He recalls that summer:

    Although the process was by no means a smooth or an immediately encouraging one, by the time regular classes resumed in the fall of 1960 I was twenty-six, and I knew that I would do everything I could to become a composer. What did that actually mean? I have no recollection now of having had the slightest sense of what the life of a composer in America might involve.[13]

    Finney was particularly generous to Reynolds, programming three of his pieces on the Midwest Composers Symposium, which was “unheard of” for student works.[15] At these Midwest Composers Symposia, Reynolds also first encountered Harvey Sollberger, who would become a lifelong colleague and friend.[5] From Finney, Reynolds learned of “the primacy of ‘gesture,’ which [Reynolds] took to be a composite of rhythm, contour, and physical energy: the empathic resonances that musical ideas could arouse – at root, perhaps, an American tendency to value sensation over analysis.”[13]

    Reynolds was sent to Japan to cover and report on the post-war cultural/music milieu and activities of radical, anti-imperialist, i.e. ‘communist’ or progressive movements – artistic or otherwise.

    He became friends with Takemitsu and Joji Yuasa among others.

    He then was ‘positioned’ to take over the Music Department of the University of California, San Diego, and by 1971 had applied for and was granted a $400,000 Rockefeller grant to create the Center for Music Experiment at UCSD.

    In 1976 Joji Yuasa was invited as composer-in-residence, and by 1981 became a full-fledged Professor of Composition at UCSD along side his sponsor-handler, Roger Reynolds.

    Reynolds had his desert oasis home in Anza Borrego designed by Greek-French composer Iannis Xenakis.


    All academic music is controlled by these intelligence agents/assets at one level or another.

    Why do you think American culture is the way it is?

    Posted by participo | October 23, 2014, 9:29 pm
  3. Georg Emmanuel Lewis – Yale Skull & Bones 1974


    Name: George E. Lewis
    Position: Edwin H. Case Professor of American Music
    Administrative Roles: Vice-Chair, Department of Music


    George E. Lewis is a curious case in that he comes from an extremely academic approach to improvised music thus co-opting an ‘outside’ form of musical expression while maintaining and steadily growing his establishment credentials.

    One wonders whether his status as a Knight of Eulogia or Boodle Boy, enhanced his prospects for success amongst other jazz musicians of African-American descent?

    Posted by participo | October 23, 2014, 9:57 pm
  4. There’s a website called gnosticmedia.com that covers a lot of the intelligence communities involvement in the drug trade, though I disagree with them on other topics.

    Posted by Chris | November 2, 2014, 9:55 pm

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