Both articles cover the topic of the role of art in the Cold War. “Propaganda and Patronage in the Cold War” discusses how the USSR and the United States battled with art as their weapon. “Modern art was CIA ‘weapon’” goes into more detail on how the CIA supported this tactic. The claim is that the CIA supported abstract expressionism because it displayed the freedom of the United States, which was looked upon more favorably than the strict socialism of the USSR.
I have never heard about any of this before. The only prior knowledge I had was that the Cold War existed. The topic of a cultural and artistic war never came up. However, everything I read makes sense. I found it funny that the USSR rejected the fantastical, utopian romanticist works while their own social realism was the same. I think their social realism was an attempt at realism while having romanticism at its core, like making a cake but covering it in cheese and pepperoni then calling it a pizza.
Both articles struck me as sounding like a joke at first. Joke conspiracy theories often include some far-fetched claim that the government was the cause of something, so hearing that abstract expressionism became popular because of the CIA certainly sounds fake. The second article even addresses this in the beginning, saying it is a joke in the art community. However, as the information is presented, the story unfolds and it actually ties together.
Overall these articles provided a surprising insight into the popularity of abstract expressionism. The fact that it’s rooted in a Cold War response to social realism sounds fake. I think the best point was the idea that the apolitical views of the artists added to the effect. I wouldn’t have thought that art created in opposition to nationalism would serve to be the best tool to display the greatness of a nation. These articles provided an insight I hadn’t thought of before.
Kristin Hines - Student artist at Maggie L. Walker Governor's School