Ken MacLeod, the wondrous science fiction writer, unearths something beyond the imagination of a lesser science fiction writer. In fact it's so demented that, given the source, I had some doubts as it its plausibility. But there it is:
The Early Days of a Better Nation: Do you find modern art baffling and depressing? Have you ever wondered if it's all a ridiculous hoax? Don't worry. It's meant to be baffling and depressing, and it is a ridiculous hoax. According to American leftist James Petras's review of Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War by Frances Stonor Saunders,
[the]CIA and its allies in the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) poured vast sums of money into promoting Abstract Expressionist (AE) painting and painters as an antidote to art with a social content. In promoting AE, the CIA fought off the right-wing in Congress. What the CIA saw in AE was an “anti-Communist ideology, the ideology of freedom, of free enterprise. Non-figurative and politically silent it was the very antithesis of socialist realism” (254). They viewed AE as the true expression of the national will. To bypass right-wing criticism, the CIA turned to the private sector (namely MOMA and its co-founder, Nelson Rockefeller, who referred to AE as “free enterprise painting.”) Many directors at MOMA had longstanding links to the CIA and were more than willing to lend a hand in promoting AE as a weapon in the cultural Cold War. Heavily funded exhibits of AE were organized all over Europe; art critics were mobilized, and art magazines churned out articles full of lavish praise. The combined economic resources of MOMA and the CIA-run Fairfield Foundation ensured the collaboration of Europe's most prestigious galleries which, in turn, were able to influence aesthetics across Europe.
So the whole hegemony of boring decadent rubbish art that has been inflicted on us for fifty years, from Jackson bloody Pollock to Damien fucking Hirst, has all along been a CIA plot.
Never could quite see the point of Robert Motherwell myself. This is certainly the most close-to-rational account I ever heard.
MacLeod's coda is biting:
Socialist Realist art now commands higher prices than that of the dissidents and the Western-imitative official art of perestroika. The market has taken an ironic revenge on its votaries.