To the editor:
Not long ago a bust of Caligula went to auction at Christie’s in London. It fetched over a million. It had become art again. Perhaps still seen as a terror of the Roman world who elevated his horse to the senate, the bust has now become a well crafted visage in white marble that has survived for thousands of years and is recognized as fine art.
Last night in Baltimore, and in all likelihood many more cities and towns across America, the life-size bronze equestrian statues of a defeated army are being removed. When these statues were commissioned, they were cast and created by some of the great American sculptors of the day. I would not be surprised if some among them came from the Stockbridge studio of Daniel Chester French.
Do not destroy them. It has been suggested that this be done. Think Indiana Jones and a large warehouse where we can crate those objects no longer helpful to inspire reflection or share their beauty of form with us. Just crate them until passions calm and — with any luck — peace reigns. Otherwise, we are not much better than ISIS in Palmyra, destroying artifacts of a culture with which we disagree.
Passion, even righteous passion, can be destructive. As we struggle in Syria, Iraq, and Egypt to protect our global cultural legacy, let’s make sure we also recognize the need to protect artistic statements in our own back yards.
Susan P. Bachelder