- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2010


We wouldn’t be having a discussion about the National Portrait Gallery’s latest lapse in judgment if the government were not in the business of buying art (“The radical art of deliberate offense,” Commentary, Thursday).

It is an outrage that taxpayer dollars are used to procure and exhibit works that are clearly offensive to so many and it begs the question, “Would it still be art if there was no market for it?” It is an insulting notion at best, that the unwashed masses of the marketplace are too unsophisticated to know what is art and therefore a government bureaucrat must take their money and decide for them and it makes me wonder whether the individuals who select this garbage are deserving of our tax dollars. Any artist may create any work he wishes, but he will have a harder time foisting it off on the rest of us if there is no demand for it on the open market.

I doubt that many of us would object to tax dollars supporting the operations of preserving, exhibiting and storing great art, but let’s get the bureaucrats out of the business of acquiring it. Defund the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities and let new acquisitions come through donations. If a piece of art is so great that it must be seen, then a philanthropic individual will surely purchase it for donation to one of our great museums. If that doesn’t happen, let the artist hang it on their own wall.


Waterford, Va.

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