CIA, Cold War, Abstract Expressionism, by Susan K Jones, 311 Gallery, a Raleigh art gallery
artGuide Magazine is excited to present an exhibition at 311 Gallery, a Raleigh art gallery in North Carolina which is showcasing an extraordinary art exhibit bringing together the influence Abstract Expressionism had on freedom of expression behind the Iron Curtain.
When I Goggled Abstract Expressionism, I found many links to the CIA and the Cold War. My curiosity was aroused! I was a child during the Cold War; I remember the bomb shelters and Russia. The Cold War was so much more; it was an idea, an image and a propaganda war, a war of the heart and mind.
Russia did not allow freedom of expression in any form thus its art, Socialist Realism, was stylized, rigid, and confined. The CIA saw Abstract Expressionism as the ideal opportunity to show the world our wealth of creativity, intellectual freedom, and cultural power; our superiority over Russia. Because most Americans did not like non-realistic art, the CIA’s project was Top Secret. Millionaires like Nelson Rockefeller (MOMA), William Paley (CBS & CIA), and Julius Fleischmann served as conduits for the CIA’s money; serving as the head of foundations set up by the CIA to promote US culture.
Abstract Expressionism is defined as pure painting, absorbed with possibility through experiments in color and form. After a fifty year journey, Sterling Edwards surrendered control of his talent and used his vast knowledge of color, design, and composition to leap into Abstract Expressionism. He sees this new work as intuitive and spontaneous; “They’re all about first impressions and providing the viewer with enough visual information to stimulate their interpretive mind.”
While the CIA’s promotion certainly didn’t hurt, critics strongly feel that Abstract Expressionism would have flourished on its own. Mr. Edwards’ exhibition, Watermedia Abstractions invites you the viewer to become a major player in his creative process and experience the freedom of Abstract Expressionism.
311 W. Martin St. Raleigh, NC