Fox News’ Glenn Beck has managed to make some new enemies, or at least he considers them enemies, this time in the art world. Last night on his show Beck tried to play art critic, to demonstrate to the communistic and fascist messages in the art on display in Rockefeller Plaza. The art world responded by pimp slapping Beck’s ignorance. Check out Beck, and the reaction to his interpretations.
Here is the video of Beck:
Beck said, “I want to talk to you a little bit about propaganda that you see maybe every day, at least people here in New York, and they have no idea what they are looking at. You know everybody says evil oil companies, oh they’re so evil, they’re so bad, well maybe. Rockefeller, Rockefeller, quintessential capitalist right? Rockefeller had Standard Oil. That’s how he made all his money. Well Standard Oil had this big gothic building in downtown New York, and they wanted to change it and update it, and there was no real American architecture in New York City in the whole world. They decided to do something completely different, streamline, different.”
Beck used the doorway or Rockefeller Plaza where the two figures are holding a hammer and sickle. Beck said, “Gee, the hammer and the sickle, where has anybody seen that before? Oh, you know what, this is from Moscow This capitalist had a hammer and a sickle? Had the worker and the farmer just like Moscow on his building, a progressive? I thought they hated communism. They don’t ever want to do that. Well they certainly hate fascism, you know that.”
Ok, that was Beck. Now let’s hear from someone who actually knows what they are talking about. Tyler Green has an excellent contemporary art blog and he took apart Beck’s interpretations. On the hammer and sickle he wrote, “Not quite. The sickle and the hammer have been used separately to signify agrarian interests and workmen or craftsmen in art respectively since at least the Byzantine period. In the 19th and 20th centuries the hammer and sickle were often fused in a range of European symbology, in both provincial heraldry and in state insignia. It wasn’t until 1922 that the Red Army adopted them as a state symbol. (It became the Soviet state symbol in 1923.)”
Beck later moved on to the front of the building 636 5th Avenue where he interpreted the relief to be a tribute to Benito Mussolini, “Gee who’s having indoctrination last week? Oh, yeah, that’s right the president, completely unrelated. This represents at the time this was made Mussolini…So you have the hammer and sickle, the art work to Mussolini there, here in New York at Rockefeller Plaza. Oil money, it’s so evil, and they’re just such big capitalists.”
On Beck’s Moussili art, Mr. Green wrote, “I’ve done a quick survey of the literature on Youth and actually no, the figure at the right doesn’t represent Mussolini. It’s just a generic, heroic male figure representing industry. There is no evidence to indicate that Piccirilli was a fascist-sympathizer. At the time of the commissions discussed here, he’d lived in New York for four decades. He received these commissions only after a much-publicized dustup about Rockfeller Center pursuing Europeans such as Matisse and Picasso to create the art for Rockefeller Center.) Youth Leading Industry survived World War II intact and unobstructed and has remained on view ever since.”
Beck went on to claim that Obama is using art as indoctrination, “This administration is beginning to use art as propaganda. This is nothing new to progressives.” He also went all conspiracy X-Files, the truth is out there, “Don’t let any of these people ever tell you anything other than the truth… the progressives of today — it makes sense that we’re headed down this road. It makes sense that you feel a little uneasy, and everything seems to be a little hidden. It’s not if you look. You’re awake you need to see the things hidden in plain sight.”
New York magazine senior art critic Jerry Saltz issued a challenge to Glenn Beck, “A large gallery or museum should ask Glenn Beck to curate two shows this season (he would be free to ask other associates at Fox News to assist). The first: Images of art in NYC, or actual works, that he would like to see demolished; and the second: A show of CONTEMPORARY art that he approves of. Saltz said he would review both shows.
I think we have finally found something that Beck knows even less about than politics, art. I have to admit that I enjoy art, but my knowledge is limited to a couple of college classes. I do enjoy social and political art of all leanings though. I am glad that there are people out there like Tyler Green who are willing to take the time to correct Beck’s distortions of fact.
You know, Beck never explained how Obama is using art to indoctrinate Americans, and what the Rockefellers and the decades old works that Beck featured have to do with today. Glenn Beck has descended into full blown McCarthyism, and if you know history, you will recall how well that worked out for Joe McCarthy.