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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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