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Abstract Expressionism Art as a Weapon of Cold War

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Abstract expressionism was commended as an unusual, strongly customized and particularly apolitical form of aesthetic expression. This abstract expressionism developed into art during the post war period where the American government used this art in Cold War. When the U.S government agencies found that there is a common link between many artists and communist ideologies, and they want to express the meaning of Western Culture as free which the Soviet Union was not. The use of abstract artworks of artists such as Jackson Pollack, Robert Motherwell, William De Kooming and Mark Rothko- as a weapon in the Cold War has been an issue of political and economic debate. The art works created in this style were very energetic and messy. It was a combination of two affinities, first, creating fully abstract works and second, express emotions by using different colors. Many people find these artworks as meaningless and not interesting, but I will argue that we can still confirm social values in these artworks, although their production and circulation were funded by government agencies.

Jackson Pollack was one of the leading figures in using this style in his paintings. Jackson Pollack’s Number one is one of the abstract painting. His paintings were artworks that disobeyed the orthodox rationalization. His work must be seen in order to understand it. Jackson Pollack’s intention while making this type of work was to make observers to feel his actions. By using different layers of colours, textures, cigarettes on the canvas, he conveys motion in his painting without using any kind of images. Observers can almost sense the smell of paint, cigarettes while standing in front of his painting.

A famous writer Parker Tyler addressed Jackson Pollack and his works as ‘The Infinite Labyrinth’. By labyrinth he meant an arbitrary sequence of directions designed, through the presentation of many alternatives of movement, to mislead and imprison. But there is one true way out- to freedom. He wrote that “Pollack’s paint flies through space like comets and, striking the flat canvas, bursts into frozen visibilities. What are his dense and spangled works but viscera of an endless non-being of the universe? Some-thing which cannot be recognized as any part of the universe is made to represent the universe in totality of being. So, we reach the truly paradox of these paintings: being in nonbeing”.

As this art brings people into presence and makes them feel some different, it has as much as social values as any other type of artwork such as cubism, surrealism has. This freedom of painting is the reason why U.S government agencies circulated these artworks. Moreover, the social value of these artworks can be evaluated by the fact of its consideration of totally “American” and the agencies used these artworks for the nationalism or patriotism of the country, which in turn tells us about the social values of this work.

In conclusion, although the Government agencies used the abstract expressionism as a weapon of Cold War and their production and circulation was completely funded by them, but it was the social value of these artworks which made the Government agencies to specifically choose these artworks to represent the patriotism of the country. Their involvement in this art movement represents and elevates the social values of the artworks made in that movement.

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Abstract Expressionism Art As A Weapon Of Cold War. (2021, March 18). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 4, 2021, from
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