Trump’s Classic Federal Art Restrictions Overturned

United States Capitol building in Washington, DC Robert Alexander/Getty Images

One of the more surprising executive moves made during the Trump presidency (which really says something) came back in February 2020, when Trump denounced modern architectural styles for federal buildings and proposed the “Beautify Federal Buildings Again” initiative. The purpose of the executive order was to restore a preference for “classical” architectural styles, a designation that often included Greek Revival and Gothic methodologies; The order also proposed strict restrictions surrounding public art. This week, it was reported that the General Services Administration is reversing Trump’s strict policies put in place by the former president in July 2020. After that, arts commissions and public projects at the federal level can use a number of different styles.

Nina Albert, public buildings services commissioner for the General Services Administration, said, “By promoting neither a formal style nor subject matter, Art in Architecture seeks to include artists from the diverse communities of our nation, working in many styles and materials.” said in a statement. “Incorporating contemporary art into our key civic spaces is an example of how democratic societies leverage the creative talents of individuals.”

When Trump announced his plans for federal buildings, many critics pointed out that the former president’s belief that neoclassical styles evoke “self-governing ideals” winked at a fraught connection between classical architecture and the problematic idealization of the past. Neoclassical architecture, for example, was the cornerstone of both Nazi supremacy and fascism under Mussolini. Specifically, Trump’s plans also demolished the types of art that could be commissioned.

Trump’s plan stated that any artwork depicting a “historically significant American” should fall within the confines of “a realistic or realistic representation of that person, not an abstract or modernist representation.” Hilter also set out to disparage “degenerate” modernist and abstract art so much that the Nazis once held an art exhibition solely to humiliate and humiliate modern artists: paintings were hung haphazardly and graffiti smeared on the walls.

Trump's Classic Federal Art Restrictions Overturned

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