kottke.org posts about CIA

The CIA and abstract expressionismApr 23 2013

From a 1995 article in The Independent, an account of how the CIA promoted and funded US and other Western artists during the Cold War, including abstract expressionists like Rothko and Pollock.

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 organisations. 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.

The next key step came in 1950, when the International Organisations Division (IOD) was set up under Tom Braden. It was this office which subsidised the animated version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, which sponsored American jazz artists, opera recitals, the Boston Symphony Orchestra's international touring programme. Its agents were placed in the film industry, in publishing houses, even as travel writers for the celebrated Fodor guides. And, we now know, it promoted America's anarchic avant-garde movement, Abstract Expressionism.

(via @sippey)

The CIA magic bookNov 30 2009

The Boston Globe has a slideshow with a few examples from the now-declassified Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception.

CIA shoelaces

Here's the associated article. One could imagine a Mad Men/Bond-style spy show set in the 1960s that would utilize these techniques.

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