January 14, 2023

Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with a hilariously/tragically bad monumental sculpture

ADDED: This angle is supposed to explain the conception of the sculpture:

That might explain how the very poor judgment got made, but it doesn't not change the terribleness of the final product. A sculpture that can be walked around must look great from all angles. There can't be angles where it looks like hands holding up a gigantic penis or turd or large intestine! And a big public sculpture like this would have had to win approval before its final construction. How many authorities signed off on this? What a screw up! The fact that it's about Martin Luther King makes it painful in a way that wouldn't be the case if it were a generic celebration of the human spirit or some such abstraction.
 

ALSO: Having already written this post, I now see that there's a plan to call racism on any white person who criticizes this art.

106 comments:

Meade said...

Wow. Talk about ineffable.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

OMG - my mind rarely ever goes to "sex"

but it went there. please... NO.

Hunter Biden's tax payer funded Hooker said...

It's not for MLK.
It's for teh gay.

Ice Nine said...

Martin holding up a giant turd? But why?

Bob Boyd said...

It's a call to arms.

R C Belaire said...

What the hell? No doubt it will be praised as one of the most significant pieces of art ever.

Owen said...

There is ugly. And then there is b*tt ugly.

Who paid for this? And how long do we have to put up with it?

Oh: I know what happened! They needed to get rid of all the old statues of Confederate generals, so they melted them down and made this!

Whiskeybum said...

Hugs all around!

rrsafety said...

I walked by this at Christmas and was able to peak through the barriers. It is not good. This is a massively important public space in Boston on the Boston Common and they've more or less ruined it. Truly, any normal Bostonian would have looked at the plans and rejected it, but we are run by progressive politicians who are decidedly NOT normal.

stlcdr said...

"Oh my!"

(anyone can be an artist; not everyone is an artist).

Butkus51 said...

Im old enough to remember Obamas official portrait.

From one angle it looks like porn.

Tina Trent said...

Sadly, there will be very damning material about MLK emerging from the sealed archives in a few years. Some is already out in the recent Kennedy records drop. I saw more in grad school. This is extreme and prolific sexual stuff, including forced gang rape and other acts. And I found similar documents in different archives of lesser-known women in the movement. It was a quietly acknowledged problem.

So what do we do with this information? It is verifiable. I chose to not write about it when offered the topic decades ago. I did research it, and some of the women activists' accounts were tragic. This isn't any FBI sting. People were coerced to keep quiet. I felt it too unkind to his children and now deceased wife, who suffered a great deal, including a firebombing, and are owed a great deal. But it is coming.

What does it do to his legacy? I don't have an answer. But I wouldn't put up a statue like this one. Yikes. I also wouldn't attack the subject area experts who believe telling the whole story is the only way to be an honest historian. That is going on already.

Bob Boyd said...

I don't get it...but I'm not a hugger, so...

It made me think of zombie movies.

tim in vermont said...

Boston Commons is strewn with first rate sculptures, but now this.

Charlie said...

John Waters had the best take on public art in his book Crackpot: "If this alarming trend can't be nipped in the bud, they'll be an eyesore on every corner. Did they ask ME if I wanted to look at it?"

rhhardin said...

Martin Luther holding a thesis?

rehajm said...

I could see that statue from my old home. I'm happy I sold it in July...

rehajm said...

So monumentally bad. I mean the meth heads in that part of the Common will get some shade from it but the rain is just gonna slide around the arms and soak anyone sleeping there...

gilbar said...

he's going down on her? i mean.. that's what it IS; right, He's between her legs eating her out?

Ann Althouse said...

I'm picturing it some day holed up with "Nail's Tales."

rehajm said...

This happens quite a bit on the Common. Some politically oriented special interest erects an eyesore, then the Beacon Hill Brahmin complain so it gets packed up and moved near a T stop in the Seaport...

Smilin' Jack said...

Embrace? Looks more like they went through that teleporter in “The Fly” together.

rrsafety said...

@rehahm, to be honest, we need more Beacon Hill Brahmin.

TaeJohnDo said...

It is either a case of "Follow the money" graft or virtue signaling gone wrong.

Whiskeybum said...

Speaking of Nails' Tales, whatever happened to that sculpture? When the university took it down in 2019, ostensibly for the redesign of the stadium entrance, they told the sculptor, Lipski, that they would re-locate it somewhere. It's 2023, and I can't find any information about it on the internets since it was taken down.

Lipski's folly stayed up for 14 years. What's the over/under on how many years it will be before the Boston City Council informs Hank Willis Thomas that "gee, we're gonna hafta put yer wonderful Embrace statue in storage for a few years while we overhaul the Commons, but we promise to put it back somewhere when we're done!"

Ampersand said...

Boston is to The Embrace as Paris is to the Eiffel Tower. Don't you change a thing, Boston!

Dagwood said...

AS Justice Potter Stewart once said, I know it when I see it.

Prof. M. Drout said...

It's worse in person. Much worse.

Carol said...

So it goes with Socialist Realism. It just gets worse and worse.

chuck said...

Boston has standards to maintain, and this statue does that brilliantly.

BUMBLE BEE said...

Quite a carbon footprint in both of these "art works".

Lem Former Twitter Aficionado said...

"I May Not Get There with You"

Maybe this sculpture inadvertently speaks to MLK's vision in retreat.

If you attend any University or College, MLK's vision may be difficult to make out.

It does make a perfect r/ThereWasAnAttempt to honor MLK post though.

robother said...

In my experience, most Blacks, even in the professions, are what used to be known as "middlebrow." Whatever their personal opinion of a statue of Robert E. Lee atop Traveller, that is the style of public sculpture they expect: a noble representation of a worthy human being. Public art expressing a common language.

But Ivy League (and now pretty much all) universities teach them that middlebrow is deplorable. Not only Robert E. Lee or Thomas Jefferson as subjects, but that whole style of public sculpture is deplorable, as are the folks who like it: white privilege. 4 years of that kind of condescending: no wonder Blacks leave universities angry, with a chip on their shoulder. What ever insult they feel, though, the only acceptable outlet is to join their professors in hating the deplorable white middlebrow.

rcocean said...

Oh god. I'm glad I don't have to walk by this monstrosity and see it every day. I know its boring, but shouldn't a statue honoring MLK, look like MLK?

How many peeps walking past this are going to think "MLK". It says something about how our brains have been wired by the MSM to think of some sexual ententre that my first thought on seeing this was a sex joke.

Glad I didn't write it.



Dave Begley said...

The artist is Hank Willis Thomas. He's Black. That's how he got the gig. Let's be honest.

I'm friends with a very good sculptor here in Omaha. He tells me there's lots of politics in these artist selections.

Roy Lofquist said...

Meade said...
Wow. Talk about ineffable.
1/14/23, 9:28 AM

Now use effable in a sentence.

Michael K said...

Well, we finally got used to the ugly depressing Vietnam memorial.

FullMoon said...

Apparently artist not a MLK fan.
Planet saving recycled material?

Estoy_Listo said...

MLK is so last century: all that talk about content of character and the American Negro sitting at the table as an equal. The sculpture is a fitting symbol of what his memory has become

Tina Trent said...

Public art may be the worst indictment of collectivist politics available. During the 1996 Olympics, literally the ugliest piece of art I've ever seen was erected near the intersection of Peachtree and West Peachtree. It was a human body covered with what looked like running shoe inserts. I can't even find a picture now. If anyone can, please help -- because it was seared into all our minds, and if we share it with many, the aesthetic trauma might subside.

It wasn't merely ugly. It wasn't even insane Eastern Europeann dictator dog rotating art. It was the most hideous thing I've ever seen.

wildswan said...

Today it'll be racist to criticize it; tomorrow it'll be racist to not have criticized it. How will the young folks live in the present if they know it means being cancelled in the future? or survive the present into the future if they are cancelled now? This is their life; this, their dilemma. Probably they have some solution which is invisible when you're the oldest generation as I am. Maybe that explains the popularity of alt-reality cultural forms- fantasy, porn, gaming, metaverse. And we can be optimistic because of the enormous, enduring popularity of the Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, two story cycles which uphold the values of the past while they are understood as fantasy.

boatbuilder said...

There is an MLK sculpture on MLK Boulevard in New Britain CT; it is supposed to be him declaring "I have a dream!" but to me it looks like he just got kicked in the package.

It is nowhere even close to the awfulness of the Boston Common abomination. WTH?

Laurel said...

From one angle it appears to be a black man cowering, his head buried in his arms.

A cowering black man.



Way to go, people.

Roger Sweeny said...

Amaka Ubaka is on the terrible local news I usually watch in the morning. Well, actually, I record it and mostly fast forward through everything but the weather and sports. Best weather in Boston.

rehajm said...

There can't be angles where it looks like hands holding up a gigantic penis or turd or large intestine! And a big public sculpture like this would have had to win approval before its final construction. How many authorities signed off on this? What a screw up!

This is the statue the same Boston brain trust thought fit to remove but for the wrong reason- Emancipation Group It should have been removed long ago because from the back it looks like Lincoln is enjoying a blow job.

Tom T. said...

NSFW but funny reaction on Twitter.

Sebastian said...

Tina: "This is extreme and prolific sexual stuff, including forced gang rape and other acts."

Didn't Clayborne Carson already acknowledge some it? But as you say, maybe there's more to come.

Anyway, there is a certain cruelty in making a terrible sculpture of an embrace involving a woman and her outrageously cheating husband.

Jon Burack said...

In 1964, I believe, my future (first) wife and I went to Boston Commons to hear King give a speech. We could not find a place to park quick enough, so we drove around the park listening to what we could hear. We could not make out the words, but I recall how the drama and music of the man's voice all by itself gave us chills. It was his voice, his ideas (which we already had taken in full measure), his religious conviction and his love of this land's best essence that produced those chills. I cannot imagine what emotion other than, at best, perplexity, could come from circling this statue, either up close or from afar. What a cruel joke.

n.n said...

King was right. His successors are not. Diversity [dogma] (i.e. color judgment, class-based bigotry) breeds adversity. DIE doctrine forces a progressive condition. Lose your ethical religion.

n.n said...

MLK is so last century: all that talk about content of character and the American Negro sitting at the table as an equal

Yes, today it's equity and inclusion that denies individual dignity, individual conscience, intrinsic value under an ethical religion. Progress: one step forward, two steps backward. Progressive: DIE.

Ann Althouse said...

I love the topic of bad public art. I have so much feeling about it. I have the distinction, by the way, of having worked in the area once dominated by the notorious "Tilted Arc."

Jon Burack said...

It was 1965, not 1964.

Wince said...

That first angle of the reveal made me think cunnilingus.

A hand resting on a bald head that's between knees that are resting on shoulders, with two hands supporting the thigh and buttocks.

Wince said...

An accelerated decline in aesthetics is noticeable across Boston since Wu became mayor.

gspencer said...

I guess people forget their eggs and rotten tomatoes. And with our to-date snowless winter they couldn't even make snowballs to throw at that hideous things. Hideous - so typical of everything leftist.

Wince said...

This is way more conspicuous than Ho Chi Mihn's profile allegedly painted on the massive Boston Gas tank since the early 1970s.

The blue swatch, in profile, facing left, with the long thin beard.

tommyesq said...

And a big public sculpture like this would have had to win approval before its final construction. How many authorities signed off on this?

Are you kidding? Who would dare deny approval in today's political climate?

ALP said...

"I now see that there's a plan to call racism on any white person who criticizes this art."

Drag is similar. The aesthetics of drag have gotten overly garish and really leaning into excess. Don't you dare SAY that out loud!

"I love the topic of bad public art. I have so much feeling about it."

I do as well. Bad public art done by children that is supposed to enlighten us in some way (save the planet! be kind to everyone) puts me into a rage.

The Vault Dweller said...

The statue reminded me of Body Horror.

n.n said...

We had a "tilted arc" in our neck of the woods. It was called a "dilapidated fence/wall", which was torn down, then replaced with a state of the art structure.

Carol said...

"shouldn't a statue honoring MLK, look like MLK?"

I take it you haven't seen the ginormous Mao Luther King statue?

n.n said...

re: "tilted arc", dilapidated divider, tres chic in the grunge sector.

William said...

Public art should be comprehensible and a bit schlocky. The Statue of Liberty is the beau ideal. Something like that would never get approved today.....Some of the Lenin statues were pretty good. They weren't torn down for lack of merit but because of who they honored. Tina Trent points to a problem that this statue might face in the future. The feminists might not want to celebrate the memory of a rapist with a statue of a physical embrace.....People are rethinking Columbus and George Washington. There's no reason why they won't rethink MLK who, after all, was male and heterosexual.

JK Brown said...

Ugly public art, yet another reason to stay away from the urban corpses and leave them to their fate.

Biff said...

With MLK being reassessed on ideological grounds (non-violence, color-blindness, etc) and sexual grounds (violence and coercion as mentioned by Tina Trent above or mere garden variety serial adultery), are we sure that the sculpture is not an intentional subversion and mockery of MLK and his legacy?

Robert Marshall said...

Why didn't someone think to create a series of realistic computer-generated views of this monstrosity, and show them to randomly selected everyday Bostonians? Don't you think that might have brought about some second thoughts?

mikee said...

It only took a few decades for the entwined lovers statue to be recognized as kitsch.
Give this a few years and maybe giant elbows will fall out of favor among art cognoscenti, too.

M said...

One of Post Modernism’s goals is to divorce art from beauty. The Left love postmodernism and the hideous “art” it produces. The truly funny thing is that the majority of humanity will not be interested in preserving the ugly “art” created by leftist postmodernists and so their propoganda will be discarded and destroyed leaving their legacies with little physical representation. Fools.

Balfegor said...

I don't understand why it's so hard to do satisfactory public statuary of MLKJr. This is worse than MLK as Rameses on the National Mall, but that wasn't good either. Just do a basic statue that actually looks like him, and call it a day. I think sculptors of this kind of didactic art are getting led astray by the thought that this is their opportunity to do something "creative" or "unique" to help market themselves, but I bet 99% of the public just wants something recognisable and a bit grand they can point out to their children. Like Nelson on his column, or Lincoln seated upon his throne of fasces. Ozymandias on the Potomac may not be great, but at least it serves that function.

On a different note, I suspect Google must be doing something to deprioritise search results comparing the MLK Jr. memorial to Ozymandias. It was a comparison pretty widely made at the time the statue was unveiled, thanks to the frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command and also the colour of the stone used, but nothing comes up searching.

retail lawyer said...

Bad public art is the norm. Embarcadero Plaza in SF used to have a sculpture that looked like random concrete chunks. It became overshadowed for awhile with the demolition of the then overhead Embarcadero Freeway, resulting in a dangerous mess looking just like the art, but much bigger.

retail lawyer said...

The only recognizable part of that sculpture looks like some dude dry humping a pillow.

madAsHell said...

I understand they want to replace it with a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

From the comments "over there" I gather it is important that this could be any two people embracing, or one person embracing any body part or bodily whatever, coming out of a person's whatever. Hey, they could be a gay couple, moving beyond the outdated hetero supremacy! Maybe either Dr. or Mrs. or both were closet something! Maybe they were two trannies trying to fool each other! A penis! Are you kidding me? Well, OK. Unless they were up to something that would have been considered deviant at the time, they are not likely to be seen as heroic. Just being black doesn't really cut it, and leading political causes may not go very far either.

Are more statues going to come down? Will there be more or less consistent criteria as to what comes down, what goes up? Sorry, more sexual references.

Mike of Snoqualmie said...

It is a monstrosity. A realistic statue based on the photo would have been much, much better.

The Boston public art commissioners should be flogged for approving this monstrosity.

madAsHell said...

During the drop-n-cover Cold War, I always imagined this is what it would look like to "kiss-your-ass-goodbye".

pious agnostic said...

Ok, I'm going to make a few positive observations.

The color of that polished dark bronze is beautiful.

The technical skills displayed to produce the statute are admirable.

I rather like the way is perches upon the three "elbows," giving it a lightness that a more solid base would not.

Coretta's dumper never looked better.

Sydney said...

Two headless arms in an embrace? It looks like two arms holding a head from some angles but I think the sillhoutte is supposed to resemble a heart, from some of the other photos I see on Google.

Roger Sweeny said...

@ Wince - You can't blame Wu for the statue. She was elected in November and was inaugurated just a few days ago.

Clyde said...

This seems to be the perfect metaphor for our country in the 2020s: America, Land of Regrettable Choices. Wish we could go back to 2019 knowing what we know now and have a mulligan on this whole misbegotten decade.

Iman said...

I have a dream… that I never saw this eyesore.

Nobody said...

I can only hope it looks and feels more inspirational in person. Not a big fan of abstract sculpture tbh. Perhaps the creator dropped a lot of LSD or shrooms during production! No doubt paid for by tax dollars hence why it fails?

BudBrown said...

Lot of regular statues of MLK. Nice one out at USF. Pics here not so good but others I like.
I suppose it needs seeing in person. Demands contemplation. Embracing what exactly? Love, struggle, destiny? Anyway, why rush to judgement. I like the hands and fingers. Ok, what's with the elbows. Had to elbow their way into the line?

traditionalguy said...

Methinks Boston does not like MLK. He was a great man. Not an abstraction.

Michael said...

The reason public art is so horrible is that the artists lack the talent to deliver classic heroic sculpture modeled on the human body. Just as modern painters can’t draw a stick man.

rehajm said...

Roger Sweeny said...
@ Wince - You can't blame Wu for the statue. She was elected in November and was inaugurated just a few days ago.


She was city council when it was approved...

Ralph L said...

Public art is finally saying it explicitly: Go Fuck Yourself.

Lurker21 said...

That is based on the embrace of Martin and Coretta when they heard that he had won the Nobel Prize. When I first saw the photo, I didn't know what it was, but I don't think it's that terrible now. It's certainly better than the vaguely Asian-featured statue of MLK in DC's memorial. In that statue, King is almost hugging himself. I guess Boston envied Chicago and other cities' public art people can actually walk under and wanted something like that of their own.

Wince said...

Roger Sweeny said...
@ Wince - You can't blame Wu for the statue. She was elected in November and was inaugurated just a few days ago.

Didn't intend to specifically connect Wu to statue choice, even though Wu was on the City Council for years and inaugurated as Mayor in June 2022 (the new governor Maura Healey was elected November 2022 / inaugurated last week).

Just my observation that much of the city looks like crap, getting crappier, even amidst the property boom, construction mess aside. New skyscrapers going up while everything else looks hollowed-out, not kept up, especially on the street level.

nemesis443 said...

Did it ever occur to those geniuses to just put up a statue of the two embracing?

Prof. M. Drout said...

Not only it is ugly, but it's stupid. The reason to erect a statue to MLK is to commemorate his public, political accomplishments. Who the hell cares that he met his wife in Boston or that they embraced when they heard about the Nobel? We don't commemorate people for their personal lives, and if we did, there are probably millions of people whose personal lives are more exemplary than MLK. The reason he has PUBLIC artwork commemorating him is his PUBLIC work; what he did to EARN the Nobel is what matters, not his and his wife's reaction to it.
This seems trivial, but it's a symptom of a serious intellectual problem: general knowledge of history in all but the most cartoonish forms is so impoverished--particularly among our 'leadership' class--that people in decision-making roles don't actually know the details of what MLK and similarly revered figures did or said. They just know that he's officially sanctioned as being a "good guy," and so he is treated as if he were a saint, every aspect of whose life would be consistently holy. This is a category error. MLK was not a saint: except for his political work, he was no better or more worthy of commemoration than millions of other people. Treating him and other political figures as a saint contributes to our current dysfunction.


Ken Mitchell said...

Another prime example - although lately, there have been SO many - of how government art is invariably BAD art.

gilbar said...

seriously, is there some rule now, that art has to look like sh*t?
you know, like that rule, that poems can no longer rhyme, or have scansion?

Fustigator said...

F*cking hilarious.

Just saw a thread over on reddit where this is getting absolutely panned and most people think it looks like a bald man performing cunnilingus on a woman.

https://www.reddit.com/r/WTF/comments/10bnnri/new_mlk_statue_unveiled_in_boston/

Maybe people will start waking up to the fact that our so-called elites are just idiots.

tommyesq said...

Looks vaguely like self-fellatio - appropriate enough for today's Left.

Poppa said...

Remember the large statue of him where he appeared Asian?

There must be good statues somewhere.

Or perhaps I don't know art.

Bunkypotatohead said...

DALL-E2 makes "art" like that sometimes. By mistake.

Fred Drinkwater said...

Gilbar, Locally we have a sculpture ostensibly of "Quetzalcoatl" by Robert Graham in San Jose's Plaza de Cesar Chavez.

https://www.kqed.org/news/11668265/the-serpent-statue-in-san-jose-that-people-think-is-something-else

Looks just like a 8 foot high pile of dog poop until you get close enough to make out the snake head. (I was vastly amused when the first image link I found was at a website devoted to dog-friendly locations!)

Big uproar when unveiled. It looks nothing like the prototype, not to mention the delicate issue of a god sculpture in a public park.

Don’t Buy It said...

The representation is entirely appropriate, given the way MLK's legacy has been entirely trashed by the civil rights industrial complex.

Andrew said...

Has anyone taped a banana to it yet?

Erik said...

When I first saw a photo of the unveiling, I swear
I had no idea it was a monument to MLK and his wife
(or, for that matter, to any other celebrity).

I thought it was a statue of some random couple
(white, black, interracial, who knows? Who cares?)
performing the sexual position known as "69"

Sean said...

Over 20 years ago the Parti-Quebecois unveiled a nice statue of Rene Levesque that was life sized. Poor Rene was a short man (5'3") and so the statue was short and allowed people to come and hug him and give him pats on his bald head. The idea was that Rene was a man of the people and this statue allowed people to interact with the man who was beloved by the separatists.

Well the Parti-Quebecois leaders were not pleased with with the treatment of good old Rene, and that the statue wasn't as impactful due to its size, so they replaced it with a larger version of him on a pedestal so the folks could keep their hands off of him.

Third Coast said...

For comparison, google Detroit's monument to Joe Louis known as "The Fist". It's a 24 foot long bronze sculpture of an extended arm with a clenched fist. One doesn't have to be an artiste' to know that the sculpture tells us pretty much all we need to know about Louis' boxing career and his fight against Democrat inspired Jim Crow laws. His fist almost literally gave a punch to the gut of Hitler when he beat Max Schmeling in 1938.

Rusty said...

Well.
That was a monumental waste of bronze.

Big Mike said...

ADDED: This angle is supposed to explain the conception of the sculpture:

IMAO, if a piece of art has to be explained then both the art and the artist are failures.

rkw69 said...

Looks like a big pile of šŸ’©

rkw69 said...

It looks like a big pile of ������