This is an old story—I think it broke in 1995—but it's one I hadn't heard before: Apparently, the OSS (precursor to the CIA) invested heavily in the New York art scene as propaganda for American culture. The OSS wanted to advertise that America was a free haven for non-conformists and "a vast jamboree of intellectuals, writers, historians, poets, and artists," while the USSR put its artists in ideological straitjackets and viciously punished oddballs.

You probably knew all about this already—but in case you're as benighted as I am, you can read more here.

From the story:

The connection is not quite as odd as it might appear. At this time the new agency, staffed mainly by Yale and Harvard graduates, many of whom collected art and wrote novels in their spare time, was a haven of liberalism when compared with a political world dominated by McCarthy or with J Edgar Hoover's FBI. If any official institution was in a position to celebrate the collection of Leninists, Trotskyites and heavy drinkers that made up the New York School, it was the CIA...

The CIA created front organizations, like the "Congress for Cultural Freedom" to promote its secret agenda to promote abstract expresssionism. (How things have changed!)

This organisation [the Congress for Cultural Freedom] 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...

Because Abstract Expressionism was expensive to move around and exhibit, millionaires and museums were called into play. Pre-eminent among these was Nelson Rockefeller, whose mother had co-founded the Museum of Modern Art in New York. As president of what he called "Mummy's museum", Rockefeller was one of the biggest backers of Abstract Expressionism (which he called "free enterprise painting"). His museum was contracted to the Congress for Cultural Freedom to organise and curate most of its important art shows.