The art we own                                                                                         

(May 16, 2024)

The Washington Post

Leaders in the federal government have always known art conveys information. Early on, Congress commissioned John Trumbull to create four paintings about the Revolutionary War that still hang in the U.S. Capitol. When a photograph still had to be fixed on a glass plate negative with chemicals, the first federal photographer, John Wood, photographed the government as it was being built.

The Kennedy administration rejuvenated the relationship between art and the government during the 1960s, calling on federal agencies to elevate the work of the best and brightest. During a speech at Amherst College, one month before he died, President Kennedy said, “If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.” Soon afterward, in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities were established. 

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