What started out on December 7 as just another modern sculpture exhibit at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has turned into a free-swinging artistic rhubarb, with two University professors among the pack howling for the avantegardists' skins.
Clarence H. Haring '07, Robert Woods Bliss Professor of Latin-American History and Economics, and William Ernest Hocking '01, Alford Professor of Natural Religion, Moral Philosophy, and Civil Polity, emeritus, were among the 608 signers of a letter sent to the Museum, will be the judges.
It stated that the "ambitious and destructive" influence of modern art could only "prove deeply deteriorating in a period in which American democracy is attacked on all sides by a philosophy of totalitarianism."
Both critics and defenders of the letter expressed their viewpoints sharply last night. "The academic sculptors are afraid someone might cut in on their commissions," commented Benjamin Rowland Jr. '28, professor of Fine Arts. "If you come right down to it, academic sculpture is more expressive of the Nazi and Communist party lines than anything which shows freedom of expression," he said.
Hocking defended his stand by calling some of the exhibits at the show "perfectly disgusting" and "ugly," and added that "I know the impulse to shock is sometimes a stimulus to advance, but it is no criterion for beauty."