The New Republic: Ike Memorial Design “Bombastic and Silly”

Writing for The New Republic, historian Geoffrey Kabaservice vehemently opposes the planned design for the Eisenhower Memorial:

With its 80-foot-high smokestack columns towering over a four-acre site whose only representation of its subject would be a statue showing him as a barefoot boy, the current design for the proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower memorial in Washington, D.C. manages to be both bombastic and silly. It’s easy to imagine tourists mistaking the memorial as a spectacularly misconceived tribute to Huckleberry Finn.

Which is why it’s entirely appropriate that a dispute has broken out over it. On one side has been Frank Gehry, the postmodernist “starchitect” who won the memorial competition, and his backers in government planning commissions and the artistic establishment. On the other, the Eisenhower family (David Eisenhower, the president’s grandson, resigned from the Eisenhower Memorial Commission in January) and defenders of public spaces such as the National Civic Art Society, who argue that Gehry’s design is an embarrassment to the man it was meant to honor.

Kabaservice concludes:

. . . Frank Gehry, and the blingy, egotistical, celebrity-worshipping culture he represents, never could claim any attachment to [Eisenhower] to begin with. Gehry’s aesthetic, which seeks freedom from the dead hand of tradition, is the very antithesis of the Eisenhower ethos. The Eisenhower memorial, if approved in its current form, would pay tribute to Gehry’s qualities rather than Ike’s . . . .

One Response to “The New Republic: Ike Memorial Design “Bombastic and Silly””
  1. Don Wigal says:

    My guess is that the organizers of the DEE memorial have intentionally set up the controversial barefoot boy topic to draw attention to the project for fund raising. But, I can’t believe the boy image would be the ONLY statue on the large memorial site. I would envision more a progression of statues from the humble beginnings in Kansas, through his popular WW II images, to the post-president respect he earned. A parade of images like the iconic one of man evolving from the sea could be implied, if not actually the solution.

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