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Monuments That Celebrate Communal Struggles, Not Flawed Men

A striking billboard looms over the gates at the main entrance of Socrates Sculpture Park. It’s not an advertisement but an artwork by Nona Faustine that speaks to the reckoning that — fueled by a summer of protests — has led to the toppling of monuments across this country.

Titled “In Praise of Famous Men No More,” its soft-focus images show the Lincoln Memorial in Washington side by side with the equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt outside the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (which has long been considered a symbol of colonialism and racism and is in the process of being removed).

A hazy horizontal line runs across the middle of each photographic rendering, as if the sculptures were being crossed out or viewed from behind bars. The negation seems less individual than categorical. Both presidents are venerated for progressive policies, but in reality, their legacies are mixed. Ms. Faustine seems to be rejecting the traditional monument form for not making room for those complications. Enough, her billboard seems to say. Let us no longer spend our resources praising famous men...

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