Steven Tepper, Unfamiliar Objects in Familiar Places: The Public Response to Art-in-Architecture, The International Journal of Cultural Policy
Public art has been an important part of America’s experiment in democracy since its founding. From Horatio Greenough’s half-naked sculpture of George Washington in a toga and sandals, intended for the new Capitol Rotunda, to Maya Lin’s Vietnam Memorial, public art in America has been celebrated, censored, deplored and debated. In the 18th century, a group of American citizens who disliked the design for the Washington Monument disrupted its installation by throwing stones, intended for its construction, into the Potomac River. In 1922, suffragists protested Frederick MacMonnies’ sculpture, Civic Virtue, which they perceived to be misogynist because it featured the allegory of virtue (depicted as a man) trampling vice (depicted as two women. More recently, Japanese Americans in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles protested a proposed mural by Barbara Kruger that featured words from the Pled of Allegiance. The mural design purpostedly evoked memories of American acts of cultural persecution in WWII internment camps. Why then does public art often serve as a lighting rod, attracting the heat of official censorship and provoking public debate and contention?
Read the full article: