Here's a funky story from the Independent (why is it that some of the best stories about US culture and politics are in British newspapers?) about the role of the CIA in fostering and promoting American avant-garde art. According to the article, American philistinism
combined with Joseph McCarthy's hysterical denunciations of all that was avant-garde or unorthodox, was deeply embarrassing. It discredited the idea that America was a sophisticated, culturally rich democracy. It also prevented the US government from consolidating the shift in cultural supremacy from Paris to New York since the 1930s. To resolve this dilemma, the CIA was brought in.
A former CIA official who was part of the program stated
"We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War."
Pretty remarkable stuff.
If only the LDS Church acted more like the US government of the 1950s and 60s than the Soviet government of the same era, mainstream LDS art might actually be worth paying attention to, instead of horrible, gut-churning crap.