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Berlin exhibition questions CIA's influence on global art scene

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Berlin exhibition questions CIA's influence on global art scene

Post by barto on Mon 04 Dec 2017, 10:27 pm

In Europe’s city of spies, it was a feat of cold war counter-propaganda: a modernist congress centre with an audaciously curved roof, gifted by America to West Berlin in direct response to the buildup of Soviet’s Stalinallee boulevard on the other side of town.
Its initiator, Eleanor Dulles, a sister of the head of the CIA at the time, announced Berlin’s House of the Cultures of the World in 1956 as “a bright beacon shining light into the east”.
Yet a year into the Trump era, the building that lies a stone’s throw from Angela Merkel’s chancellory is one of several places in Germany that is prompting questions over America’s cultural influence.
A new exhibition, Parapolitics: Cultural Freedom and the Cold War, which is on show at the historic building in Berlin’s Tiergarten park until 8 January 2018, charts how CIA front organisations such as West Berlin’s Congress for Cultural Freedom enlisted the art world in a propaganda war between two ideologies, which came to be known as “the battle for Picasso’s mind”.
By promoting modern art movements such as abstract expressionism – and artists including Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as showcases of America’s creativity and freedom of expression, foreign intelligence services ended up shaping the modern world’s aesthetic sensibilities.
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