What & Where: Death of Rubén Salazar

What: Death of Rubén Salazar, oil painting by Frank Romero, 1986 Where: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC The killing of Los Angeles Times journalist Rubén Salazar on 29 August 1970 highlighted the impact that Cold War politics had on all sections of American society. On the day of his death, Salazar was reporting on a march organised by the Chicano Moratorium, a group protesting … Continue reading What & Where: Death of Rubén Salazar

The United States Air Force Art Collection

ESPIONART has previously reported on the art collections of some unlikely American institutions, including the NASA Art Program, the Navy Art Collection and the DIA Military Art Collection. Another to add to that list is the United States Air Force Art Collection, which was created in 1950, just as the Cold War was beginning to heat up. Soon afterwards the USAF Art Program was also founded, … Continue reading The United States Air Force Art Collection

Featured Artist: Alexander Calder

Perhaps the most celebrated American sculptor of the 20th century, Alexander Calder is especially well-known for his abstract and seemingly innocuous mobiles. These would become a common feature in official American exhibitions at world fairs and international art festivals during the 1950s – including at the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow. In this context they were presented as examples of ‘free’ art produced within a … Continue reading Featured Artist: Alexander Calder

The Graphic Art of CIA: Operation Ajax

In 1953 a Cold War spy mission, jointly staged by the CIA and MI6, would profoundly change the direction of global politics and help build the fragile world in which we live today. Between 15 and 19 August, American and British agents orchestrated the Iranian coup d’état, which overthrew the democratically-elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh. Mossadegh’s attempts to nationalise the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company … Continue reading The Graphic Art of CIA: Operation Ajax

Recommended: Soviet Ghosts

British photographer Rebecca Litchfield recently journeyed across the wreckage of the former Soviet Union to gather a timeless record of this secretive lost empire. Her haunting photographs have now been published in the book Soviet Ghosts. Across thirteen countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain, Litchfield has captured the tattered ruins of forgotten towns, military bases and prisons, and abandoned monuments to the glory … Continue reading Recommended: Soviet Ghosts

Unforgettable Pictures of Hiroshima

The atombic bombings of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 set the scene of the nuclear anxieties of the Cold War. Yet while the world would at moments come to the brink of nuclear war, the devastation wrought in Japan remains a unique tragedy. In May 1974 an old man walked in to the Japan Broadcasting Corporation studio in Hiroshima with … Continue reading Unforgettable Pictures of Hiroshima

Exhibition of the Month: Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America

Throughout August the Shiva Gallery at New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice continues to bear witness to the political violence that blighted Latin America in the 1970s and ’80s. Its current exhibition highlights artistic responses to the brutality of Pinochet’s Chile and military dictatorships in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay. In paintings, photographs, installations and video work artist-activists including Juan Carlos Caceres, Rodrigo Rojas … Continue reading Exhibition of the Month: Bearing Witness: Art and Resistance in Cold War Latin America

Igor Palmin: Photographing the Unofficial Soviet Art World

Flickr recently became a gateway into the art world of Soviet Russia thanks to photographer Igor Palmin, who uploaded his vast back catalogue onto the site. During the 1950s Palmin worked as a film cameraman and his training in cinematography is conspicuous in these absorbing photographs. Mostly taken in black-and-white, the strong sense of narrative and romance is heightened further with nostalgia for a lost … Continue reading Igor Palmin: Photographing the Unofficial Soviet Art World

Golden Statue for Laos’ Secret War

After years of French colonial rule, Laos was finally granted autonomy on 19 July 1949 before achieving independence in 1953. Yet its celebrations would be short-lived. Barely a fortnight afterwards a bitter civil war broke out which would divide the country for over two decades. As the conflict rapidly became a high-stakes Cold War proxy war, the revolutionary communist group, Pathet Lao, and the Royal … Continue reading Golden Statue for Laos’ Secret War