Lincoln Memorial, 2013, Anon, latex emulsion

Photo: Reuters

Against the grandiose scale and ambition of the original work, anonymous's superimposition is remarkable in its modernist elegance and efficiency. Here is a contempo reading of the millenial spirit's relationship to its antecedents: enlightenment and empathy, discovery and disenchantment, culture and catastrophe.

Lincoln himself, no more than a marble titan cut in his image, does not feel the change. And yet there it is, crawling across him, slithering toward his magisterial tumescence. The artist's liquid hand is more than mere vestigiality; it is a spiritual kinship with the primitive, making its presence felt in the numinous historiography of neoclassicism, a soupçon of Jung melting into Kantian grandeur. But each is as lurid as the other in its own mythopoeia of the human mind.

And what of its revelatory content? Defiantly abstract, there can be little doubt that, subjected to a multifractal analysis, the transmural qualities of this new work would become more apparent than they perhaps are. The color is surely too gauche a symbol, unless it is seen not in terms of its distasteful environmental semiotics but as a tincture representing the subtle political dimensions of a nationalist state at pretensive war with Islam–surely for no reason do the delicately-draped strands of vert cover the fasces bundled by Lincoln's knee.

If, perhaps, there is a suggestion of unrefined talent or, to borrow a phrase, random energy in service of the meaningless, one can only be reminded of the lessons of postexpressionism. As Pollack retorted to his critic, Coates: "If it's so fucking easy, why don't you do it?"

Vandalism of Lincoln Memorial 'heartbreaking,' parks spokeswoman says [Washington Post]