Bookmark and Share

Culture Wars: Then and Now

Presented in partnership by Transformer, The National Coalition Against Censorship, and the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design on March 26, 2011

Videos of each of the sessions are below.

Continue the discussion on Twitter (#CultureWars)




In light of recent censorship by the Smithsonian Institution and threats from some congressional leaders to pull arts funding from national arts institutions (including the National Endowment for the Arts), this series of panel discussions and presentations examines the Culture Wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and how freedom of expression and public support for the arts are currently being debated. Panel discussions include: Censorship Examined; Culture Wars Redux; Give Me a Revolution: Artist Responses to Censorship; Free Speech and Arts Funding.


Censorship Examined

In this presentation, Culture Wars: Then and Now keynote speaker, Robert Storr, dean, Yale School of Art, examines visual arts censorship within the context of American culture and history. (Screening of Linda Lewett’s video Perfect Moment at WPA prior to panel)

Culture Wars Redux – What did we (what do we) consider offensive?
Panelists include Philip Brookman, chief curator and head of research, Corcoran Gallery of Art and former curator of Washington Project for the Arts; Dennis Barrie, director of cultural and interpretive planning, Las Vegas Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement and former director of the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center; Jane Livingston, independent curator, author, and former associate director and chief curator at the Corcoran Gallery of Art; and H. Louis Sirkin, attorney and founding member of Sirkin Kinsley & Nazzarine, who represented Dennis Barrie and CAC in the obscenity trial provoked by the 1989 Robert Mapplethorpe retrospective, The Perfect Moment. The discussion
is moderated by Svetlana Mintcheva, director of programs at the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Give me a Revolution: Artists’ Responses to Censorship
Screening of Martha Wilson’s October 24, 2008 performance Barbara Bush: All Washed
Panelists include Mike Blasenstein and Michael Dax Iacovone from the Museum of Censored Art; Orameh Bagheri from LA Raw; Bill Dobbs of Art+; and Marshall Reese of Ligorano/Reese Collaborations. The discussion is moderated by Victoria Reis, executive and artistic director of Transformer.

Free Speech & Arts Funding
Panelists include Nora Halpern, vice president of leadership alliances, Americans for the Arts; Michael Keegan, president, People for the American Way; Robert Atkins, art historian, activist, author, and co-editor of Censoring Culture: Contemporary Threats to Freedom of Express; David A. Smith, senior lecturer in American History at Baylor University, Waco, TX and author of Money for Art: The Tangled Web of Art and Politics in American Democracy. The discussion is moderated by Andy Grundberg, associate provost and dean of undergraduate studies, Corcoran College of Art + Design.

ADVISORY NOTICE: Some of the images used to illustrate the discussion topics are graphic in nature and may not be appropriate for young children. Parental discretion is advised.

Corcoran Gallery and College of Art + Design
500 Seventeenth Street NW Washington, DC 20006
Gallery:  (202) 639-1700
College: (202) 639-1800