Eisenhower Grandkid Rips 'Commie' Monument

Battle underscores larger fight over modernism vs classicism
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 21, 2012 12:03 AM CDT
Updated Mar 21, 2012 5:49 AM CDT
Eisenhower Kin Rips 'Commie' Monument to Late Prez
Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, testifies on Capitol Hill before the House National Parks, Forest and Public Lands subcommittee.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

(Newser) – The granddaughter of President Dwight Eisenhower is seeing red over a Washington proposal by renowned architect Frank Gehry to honor the late commander in chief. Susan Eisenhower testified before a congressional subcommittee that large metal tapestries depicting the 34th president's home reminded her of Communist-era monuments that honored "Marx, Engels, and Lenin." She also compared columns that would support the tapestries to "missile silos," and then mentioned Mao, Ho Chi Minh—and also Hitler, because the scrims remind her of fences at Nazi death camps. The battle represents a long-simmering tug-of-war between modernists and those who support classical traditions, particularly in the nation's capital.

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Eisenhower, who represents the family, told the Eisenhower Memorial Commission to go back to the drawing board and start over, reports the Washington Post. “We now believe that a redesign is the only way to make this memorial acceptable to the American people,” she said. The proposed monument, planned for south of the Washington Mall, features a park bordered on three sides by metal tapestries hanging from 10 stone columns. Ground was to be broken later this year after the proposal won a greenlight from the Commission of Fine Arts. The design—along with the creep of modernism and anything avant garde— has become a key target of the small nonprofit National Civic Art Society, determined to bring "classical tradition to its rightful primacy in our nation's capital," according to its mission statement. Gehry said he welcomes a dialogue with the Eisenhower family, and is open to changes. (Read more Dwight Eisenhower stories.)

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