"AbEx was a political, 'a type of artistic expression with no polemical axes to grind and no political agendas; moreover, its avatars, aside from a few token females, were 'real men,' two-fisted paint slingers like Jackson Pollock, to whom any taint of sexual nonconformity was anathema.' (Citation from Gary Indiana, Andy Warhol and the Can that Sold the World.)
Thus the US State Department was among its enthusiastic promoters abroad. Although a number of its major artists were privately gay, its public image was macho. 'By 1949', Indiana notes,
The Abstract Expressionists had coalesced into a men's club, headquartered at the Cedar Bar, which disparaged all but a handful of female artists, expressed real hatred of homosexuals, bathed in a sea of booze every night, and considered the only place for blacks in the arts a jazz club.
Although the style was adored and supported by influential gallery owners and critics, it was never popular."
--Elaine Showalter, "Brillo: New Assessments of Andy Warhol: via Wittengstein and Viva, as master aesthete and ambilatory wig," Times Literary Supplement (October 15, 2010), p. 4
"Abstract expressionism and the Cold War
Since mid 1970s it has been argued by revisionist historians that the style attracted the attention, in the early 1950s, of the CIA, who saw it as representative of the USA as a haven of free thought and free markets, as well as a challenge to both the socialist realist styles prevalent in communist nations and the dominance of the European art markets. The book by Frances Stonor Saunders , The Cultural Cold War—The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters,  and other publications such as Who Paid the Piper?: CIA and the Cultural Cold War, detail how the CIA financed and organized the promotion of American abstract expressionists as part of cultural imperialism via the Congress for Cultural Freedom from 1950–67. Against this revisionist tradition, an essay by Michael Kimmelman, chief art critic of The New York Times, called Revisiting the Revisionists: The Modern, Its Critics and the Cold War, argue that much of this information (as well as the revisionists' interpretation of it) concerning what was happening on the American art scene during the 1940s and 50s is flatly false, or at best (contrary to the revisionists' avowed historiographic principles) decontextualized. Other books on the subject include Art in the Cold War by Christine Lindey, which also describes the art of the Soviet Union at the same time; and Pollock and After edited by Francis Frascina, which reprinted the Kimmelman article."
Image: Willem De Kooning, Woman V, 1952–1953. De Kooning's series of Woman paintings in the early 1950s caused a stir in the New York City avant-garde circle.