Sculpture Controversy, Pt. 1

Besides Glenn Beck’s try at art criticism, another notable art controversy from last year was much closer to home.  A year ago, J. Seward Johnson’s God Bless America came to Chicago.  The sculpture itself is an enlargement and embellishment of the iconic Grant Wood painting American Gothic, which is in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Johnson’s work was installed in Pioneer Plaza, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, the area just south of the Tribune tower.  Here the sculpture sat, steadily attracting tourists and their cameras but no members of the press.  Until the end of September.


On September 30th, Steve Johnson, a pop culture critic for the Chicago Tribune, wrote a weekend feature article about the Seward Johnson work. 

Maybe it’s because the Tribune doesn’t have an art critic anymore, or maybe it’s because the Seward Johnson piece is so negligible, most likely it’s a combination of both of these issues that caused his article set off responses on both coasts.

Next time, I’ll be looking at what these responses were, but for now, what do you think about God Bless America?  Where does it fit into Chicago’s public sculpture?

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