Abstract expressionism was a weapon in the CIA Cold War against Communism.
The Central Intelligence Agency used American modern art - including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko - as a weapon in the Cold War.
In the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.
The centerpiece of the CIA campaign was the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists which was set up with CIA funds in 1950 and run by a CIA agent. It had offices in 35 countries and published more than two dozen magazines.
This organisation put together several exhibitions of Abstract Expressionism during the 1950s. One of the most significant, The New American Painting, visited every big European city in 1958-59. Other influential shows included Modern Art in the United States (1955) and Masterpieces of the Twentieth Century (1952).