One Hour a Month To Discuss Race in America: The Best Part of This Month’s The Magazine Antiques
July 5, 2013 – The best part of this month’s The Magazine Antiques [May/June 2013] is a small article on a patriotic painting, “Politically incorrect? Lift the veil!” by James Gardner. As if anticipating the Paula Deen controversy by several months, the article explains that the obscure French painting, The Genius of America  by Adolphe Yvon may have inadvertently sparked a discussion of race in America.
The vast mural of more than thirty-feet and six-hundred pounds was donated to Albany, New York Chancellor’s Hall of the State Education Building where it hangs today. The painting depicts symbolic figures with the female figure of the “Republic” holding center stage. The composition contains more than fifty figures, but the two attracting all the controversy are male figures in the bottom right margin of the painting representing a Union uniform clad soldier lifting or holding down a black figure.
Since 2000, the region containing the two figures has been covered up and is now, only recently unveiled one hour a day each month with commentary.
If what art means is more about the viewer’s own interpretation of it than what the artist intended – what does this say about us today?