So is this how it will be from now on?
Every few years some new fashion -- or new regime -- will dictate that all the art previous to it (or some subset thereof) will be subject to ideological cleansing for the purposes of re-education. Statuary -- the plastic arts -- should not simply be objects interpreted by philistine politicians and ideological groups for the convenience of their propaganda battles.
Art exists apart from such concerns. Art is its own thing -- a communication between the artist and the person experiencing the art. Often, art is meant to disturb, to engage the mind with many considerations.
But instead of erecting new art -- in proximity to the old -- to show what was and what is (which will also be, soon enough, what was), as a kind of progression, the fashion now is to rip it down, hide it, or destroy it. This formula has been notably practiced by ideological groups like the Taliban and ISIS:
And here is the Islamic justification for destroying art:
This is the direction our nation is heading? This is what we are choosing? This is who we are now? Are you proud?
The artist who conceived the statue in Charlottesville, Virginia, of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his horse, Traveler, was a New York City native by the name of Henry Shrady. As a sculptor, he is best known for the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial on the west front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. As the few of us remaining who read American history know, General Grant was the Union General who defeated General Lee and concluded the war against the Confederacy. He later became President of the United States. So does anyone really believe that the artist was trying to "celebrate" the ideology of the Confederacy when he designed the statute of General Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia?
The statue of General Lee had not been completed at the time of Henry Shrady's death, and so a second artist was employed, Leo Lentelli, who brought his own ideas to the project, altering the work somewhat. Lentelli was a sculptor and teacher of sculpture at the Art Students League and Cooper Union, in New York, and the California School of Fine Arts, in San Francisco. He had studied art in Bologna and Rome, and had emigrated to the United States at the age of 24. Some of his best-known work is in Rockefeller Center, Steinway Hall, and the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, in New York. One wonders what of his other work will be persecuted.
There is an artist behind every piece of work targeted, for ideological reasons, and slated for destruction or suppression. How can we expect a shallow, celebrity-seeking politician like Senator Cory Booker to understand the connection between an artist and his work?
Could Booker -- who has existed his whole life in the corrupting avarice of Wall Street, followed by the venal corruption of municipal politics, followed by the high arrogance of the United States Senate -- how can we expect him to understand? Has Senator Booker the imagination in his mind and the craft in his hands to fashion even a single, beautiful object?
Ah, but he does have the cunning to know how to gain political advantage by destroying it. And that appears to be enough these days.
"Round and round and round we go... in a dance to the music of time... endlessly repeating the past's errors... in bliss, ignorant, forgetfulness."