Monday, August 29, 2011
In the wake of the Dr. King Memorial kerfuffle, I’ve been thinking more and more of how public art is a state of mind as much as a physical thing in a physical place. In an article in the inaugural issue of Public Art Dialogue, Joshua Fisher argues that Gutzon Borglum’s Mount Rushmore National Memorial and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty exemplify this dual nature of public art, specifically in their relationship to the idea of American “Manifest Destiny.” By examining what Borglum said in his sculpture versus what his “antithesis” Smithson said in his earth art, Fisher sheds new light on each work and provides a template for analyzing the MLK monument and those that will follow. Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "How Public Art Exists More in Our Minds than in Some Place."
Friday, August 26, 2011
The international summer of troubled and/or troubling public art continues and, I hope, concludes with the unveiling of the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial, which was to officially take place in Washington, DC, this Sunday, until Hurricane Irene intervened. Originally scheduled to the mark the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the unveiling already had storm clouds approaching in the form of protestors railing against the use of a Chinese sculptor and Chinese pink granite for the African-American’s tribute. Does it really matter who sculpted the memorial or what it’s made of? Or should a grand symbolic gesture be symbolic through and through? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "The MLK Memorial: Made in China?"
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The phrase “too big to fail” still rings hollowly and painfully for everyone who remembers the 2008 bailout of the reeling U.S. financial system that was termed necessary to avoid the kind of mess our economy’s currently facing now. When I read about Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum’s facing possible jail time over unpaid taxes and the possibility that he’d have to give up painting while incarcerated, I wondered if Nerdrum might be “too big to fail” or, in this case, jail. Even if guilty, is it ethical to force an artist, especially one in his sixties, to stop making great art? Please come over to Picture This at Big Think to read more of "Can an Artist Be Too Big to Fail (or Jail)?"
[Image: Odd NerdrumSelf-Portrait with Eyes Closed, 1991.]