William Safire And Art That’s Good for You

Philip Kennicott in the Washington Post:

SafireIt used to be fairly easy to draw the political battle lines over art in America.

On one side, let’s call it the left, was a view of human creativity that emphasized confrontation and paradigm busting, that reveled in political provocation and performance art, experimental theater and German opera directors, and could be found, reliably every two years, in the Whitney Biennial. On the other, let’s call it the right, was a view of art as affirmative and pretty, that favored arts that were popular enough to be commercial, and most of the traditional performing arts, and could be found on a nightly basis at places like the Kennedy Center. This basic cultural fissure was only deepened by the right-wing assault on the National Endowment for the Arts in the early 1990s and the failed left-wing efforts to push back with yet more provocation and confrontation.

If this is an accurate picture of art in America, then conservative pundit William Safire’s delivery on Monday of the 19th annual Nancy Hanks Lecture on Arts and Public Policy is something of an anomaly.

More here.