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Does This Man Look Angry to You?

Chinese artist Lei Yixin is working on the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. (Courtesy Lei Yixin)

No, not the sculptor, Lei Yixin, who's working on this statue of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for the Tidal Basin memorial, but the sculpture itself. Though some might understand if Yixin is a little miffed right about now.

The U.S. Commission of Fine Arts says Yixin's likeness of the civil rights leader looks too confrontational. (Certainly not taking sides in this debate, but D.C. Wire has to note that King, of course, was all about confrontation. How else could one help bring down the mighty walls of segregation, speak out against a war, and challenge a nation to end not just racial inequality but economic inequality as well. But we digress.)

The commission noted, "the colossal scale and Social Realist style of the proposed statue recalls a genre of political sculpture that has recently been pulled down in other countries."


So, does the sculpture work? Does King look too angry? Does the sculpture even look like King?

By Marcia Davis  |  May 9, 2008; 8:15 AM ET
Categories:  City Life  
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In this small-scale model, it doesn't look too bad. What's disturbing is the picture of the full-scale model on the front page of the paper. That's colossal social-realism.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 9, 2008 8:48 AM | Report abuse

No he doesn't look angry, however if a black man is not smiling cheek to cheek and staring down in a meek glare, he is "angry" or "militant" or "dangerous". They'd rather he look like step and fetch it.

Posted by: Ward 6 Res | May 9, 2008 1:31 PM | Report abuse

I'm a black man and I'd say it looks a big too confrontational. Yes many of the events organized by King and other civil rights leaders were confrontational but not in an angry sense.

Posted by: James | May 11, 2008 12:29 PM | Report abuse

I am relieved that the arts commission is speaking up about this. You really could swap MLK's face for Lenin's on this thing and it would fit right in in Moscow. This is not the style of art befitting a follower of Gandhi.

Posted by: cosmopolitician | May 13, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

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