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Saltz: New York Challenges Glenn Beck to Art Exhibition

Glenn Beck doesn't like our art. New York magazine art critic Jerry Saltz challenges him to put his taste where his mouth is.

Last night, Fox News' harebrained commentator Glenn Beck took up the role of extreme right-wing art critic. He did a batty eight-minute paranoid rant tying together Obama, communism, NBC, the Soviet Union, Mussolini, Standard Oil, syphilis, fascism, the U.N., architecture, and public art in New York. Railing about "propaganda" in "plain sight," he fumed about an offensive 1937 door frame at Rockefeller Plaza showing a figure with wheat and a man holding a hammer. In no time, he was hysterical about how these figures represented "the worker and the farmer," and there was even a hammer and a sickle pictured (although the hammer resembled a shovel). It was his own private Da Vinci Code, tying all these degenerates together with “death panels,” ACORN, and socialism.

He then took off after a 1936 bas-relief at 636 Fifth Avenue, saying it "drives me nuts," concluding that a sun represented a "bright tomorrow," a wheel is "industry," and horses are the "engines of industry," and that the whole thing creates a connection between a strong leader, Mussolini, children, indoctrination, and "our president!" For the rest of the time, he basically attacked an early-twentieth-century sculpture based on the biblical passage in Isaiah about “turning swords into plowshares” and how progressives and fascists and communists were all one thing and that it somehow related to the Rockefeller Foundation giving a grant to the new czar for green jobs. I hope he doesn’t ask for the Statue of Liberty to be torn down because the poem on its base, "The New Colossus" ("Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses … ") was written by a communist Jewish woman, Emma Lazarus.

Since it’s always good when bears like this come out of the woods, let's try to coax this one out a little further.

A challenge to Glenn Beck: Curate two exhibitions in New York.

•The first, images (or actual artworks) that exist in New York City that he would like to see demolished. He could call it Degenerative Art.

• The second, a show of CONTEMPORARY ART that he approves of.

In the spirit of bi-partisanship, I would secure a first-rate New York venue for each exhibition and would write about each show in New York Magazine.

Who knows, after these shows, maybe we can get Morley Safer to do an exhibition of his watercolors of motel rooms, along with a showing of art that he approves of.

And, for reference, here's Beck:

Photo: Getty Images