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."Nonsense," says I, thinking this is as absurd as the post-war Nazis constructing the Black Legend of Pius XII to try blame the good guys for starting all the trouble in the first place. (That whole holocaust thing was the Catholics' fault, you know. What Nazis?). Or ex-Soviets trying to blame everything bad on the CIA. I mean, C'mon. Everyone knows Modern Art was a Commie plot.
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.
But then the story says Tom Braden and a bunch of Harvard & Yale grads were behind the plan, and since intellectuals will believe anything, I can believe they'd be behind such a score against our own goal.
The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover's FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA.So... color (or splatter) me skeptical, but maybe. Anyway. Just so we're all clear the Modern Art movement was propaganda promoted for sowing political and cultural confusion.