Is art free expression?
To the Editors:
Your editorial report (June 1993) on the Museum of Modern Art’s recent event honoring a number of artists and arts advocates for their contributions to freedom of expression sardonically dismisses the notion that denial of government arts funding can ever amount to censorship. What your writer ignores is that the motivation for a government action is often a pivotal question in deciding whether that action violates constitutional guarantees.
In the case of Karen Finley and the three other performance artists whose NEA grants were denied in 1990, your reporter neglects to mention that grants to the four were recommended by experts in the field on the basis of artistic merit, and were rejected by then NEA chair John Frohnmayer for political reasons. Your writer is certainly entitled to dispute the artistic merit of Karen Finley...