Scrubbing Sexist Nudity

Civic Virtue

Civic Virtue by MacMonnies

Ms. Carey sent one of her letters to the director of the Queens Museumof Art, Tom Finkelpearl, who also used to run the City’s Percent for Art program, which supports public art. In an interview, Mr. Finkelpearl said that, while he does consider the statue’s imagery sexist, he thinks there’s nothing wrong with artworks stirring debate. “Sometimes you’ll see a sign on him saying, ‘This sculpture doesn’t represent women well.’ I think it’s great; that’s people responding to public art.”

But as for spending public money to restore the statue, he said, that’s another matter. “To me, it’s a really interesting historic monument, but I’m not of the opinion that it has to look brand new,” Mr. Finkelpearl said. “I think it’s kind of perfect the way it is.”

‘Fat Boy’ Vs. Feminists – July 20, 2007 – The New York Sun:

This is an interesting debate that, for once, does not stem from the fact that the subjects are nude. The nudity is a key part of this sculpture but the reason many are up in arms is because it is perceived as sexist.

The debate raging in New York stems from the age and disrepair of the sculpture. since being relocated to queens the marble has cracked and eroded and the piece has become discolored, the fountain inoperable. it is surrounded by garbage and is usually referred to as “fat boy.” rather than being an artistic monument, it is now becoming a monumental joke.

The image is of a nude man standing above temptation depicted by nude women at his feet. as the years have taken their toll Civic Virtue has been seen as increasingly sexist and has been reviled for it’s content. the debate is whether to restore this sculpture and fountain, and hopefully elevate the parks in Queens, or to let it slowly decay with the garbage around it.

it raises the question – should all artworks should be conserved, or only the ones that suit modern opinions? I find myself torn. at what point does the decay form a part of the piece itself?

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