12 comments


  • Patrick Smalley

    Fascinating piece of writing and thought. I very much appreciate a fresh perspective on history and how things (actually) work! Sometimes it seems like we have been swallowed up by a giant marketing machine. So please . . . keep writing . . . painting . . . and teaching!

    March 26, 2015
    • Jerry Fresia

      Thanks Patrick. Well, that’s how the world works according to me. You might go to Youtube and search for Chomsky and any of the following “Edward Bernays,” “Walter Lippman,” “Manufacturing Consent,” and/or “the propaganda model. I think he nails it as far as “control of the public mind” politically; but you see, all the parts must fit together in order to insure stability – movies, art, education, etc. Thus, I think, we need to be aware of the ways in which all of this encodes how we think, do art, live. And individual contributor or social movement that has contributed to our freedom, has done exactly that. It’s not just painters who have to tell a story – secundo me! JF

      May 16, 2015
  • Great article. Expected you would mention that the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the world for more than 20 years for political reasons. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/modern-art-was-cia-weapon-1578808.html Yours, Bob

    April 04, 2015
    • Jerry Fresia

      Hi Bob, Thank you for the reference. I will certainly check it out. I knew Greenberg kept on proselytizing but I now need to see how all that fits in with Pop Art supporters. JF

      May 16, 2015
  • Maria Etheridge

    What a great piece, Jerry! I was not aware of the fact that MoMA was a Rockerfeller asset …We live and learn. Thank you for this insightful article.

    April 05, 2015
    • Jerry Fresia

      Hi Maria – how are you? yes, Nelson, in particular, was very close to intelligence services before and after the CIA was formed, especially in Latin American. Nearly all, if not all the MoMA directors, were working with the CIA. JF

      May 16, 2015
  • joy

    Geez Jerry – Have you been smoking too much weed? Reading lots of Dan Brown? How do you explain Mondrian? I have sent lots of prior comments but can never make it past the CAPTCHA thus not delivered. Best Regard, Joy McCormack

    April 08, 2015
    • Jerry Fresia

      Hi Joy, no – not Dan Brown. Actually I wrote two long responses – but then I hit the wrong keys in both
      instances and lost them both! So I need a break, but I’ll get back to you more substantively today or tomorrow. JF

      Hi Joy, I am responding to part of what you are suggesting in my next blog and maybe I’ll do a future one on Mondrian, but quickly: elites have run the show forever, except for one brief period – that is when the Impressionists basically dumped the ruling class and went their own way. That is when elites lost control and for a brief period, artists were indeed independent and defined their own movements….but early in the 20th century, elites (now part of a capitalist economy instead of one based on aristocracy) saw the opportunities for investment and sought to gain control of art production. Primarily they would do this by pushing the teaching of art out of the studios and into the university which were and are corporate run. One major player in this regard was Bauhaus which wanted to end artist independence (“subjectivity”), collapse art and architecture into design, and insure that art had a utilitarian function within the industrial system. Mondrian fits in here….by reducing everything to line and primary colors he was essentially telling the story that elites wanted to hear, namely that all art is design, needs to be under an industrial or corporate umbrella and have a utilitarian function. Now, I am not saying that this is what was in his mind, consciously – as though it were some grand conspiracy. Rather I am saying that when any artist does things that serve the interest of the most power people in a society, they are more apt to be promoted than someone who is independent of power. Anyway, by the time Pop Art arrives, nearly all artists/painters got their training in universities. Artists became “executive” artists, working on a large scale with investors and corporations. Independent painters, easel painters completely lost control. Investors/marketing people call the shots as corporations and museums merge. The story: art is about new ideas, artists are about having managerial skills.

      May 16, 2015
  • costanza baiocco

    I would be interested in Joy’s response–one hopefully that is intelligently thought through and goes beyond infantile pokes.

    June 08, 2015
    • Jerry Fresia

      I thank you for your support, Costanza, but I must add that pokes are welcome; I love to be challenged because challenges compel us to think more deeply about what we are saying. It’s like making a mark on a canvas isn’t it? There on the canvas we suddenly see who we are. We are made clear and then we reflect on that presence, change the mark again, and create who we become.

      June 09, 2015
  • joymccormack

    Hi Jerry: My incorrect CAPTCHA code swallowed my long and thoughtful reply! Makes me wonder… In summary – got a kick about my somewhat flippant remark being featured in your blog. Was caught flat footed about CIA involvement in art promotion. Did sound like Dan Brown. Guess he has lots of fodder from CIA. Do buy control by powers that be, particularly in the use of fear. However, did Pollock create his art as influenced by the CIA? Did Mondrian create his art to serve his corporate masters? Do artists want to be “Art Stars”? Do you? Don’t we all follow are own personal discoveries through our paintings?

    June 12, 2015
    • Jerry Fresia

      In my opinion: Pollock was a jerk and was greatly influenced by what the Guggenheim crowd wanted/needed which in turn was influenced by the Rockefellers/MoMA, CIA, etc. Don’t you find it interesting, if you follow Pollock’s work – and many of the other AE artists – how they did a kind of “symbolism” for many years and then within a few short years everyone is doing absolute abstraction? Moreover, they were no slackers; they were astute and heavily into self-promotion. But Joy, don’t rely on me. I listed various sources. Get informed. Read a few books on the subject. It’s all very fascinating but when one really digs in, history (of politics, art, etc) begins to look like the proverbial “slaughter bench.” It behooves all of us to “see through appearances” and let the world know and feel who we are. Re Mondrian, see above. Real artists don’t want to be art stars; artists-as-entrepreneurs probably do. My motivation: to be who I am most – that is why I inveigh against power and try to point to the many ways we are compelled to work in channels carved out by the powerful to serve power. Re: your last question: I think that most of us live with illusions in that we believe we may be following our own personal discoveries but don’t you find it interesting that the “entrepreneur” is held up as the saintly innovator, creator – when he/she MUST BE profit motivated? Don’t you find it curious that while most everyone points to “money” as the bane of existence, those who point to the “profit motive” as a bane are considered to be something horrible to be discarded immediately? This may shock you, but in one blog where I carefully made a brief analysis, with careful footnotes, suggesting that the interest of powerful types shape our lives as artists, one person commented that I was as off the wall as Dan Brown!!! Gee – just where do those ideas come from? Okay, critical thinkers are all wet; everything is just and legitimate. Keep writing in.

      June 17, 2015

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