Is There A Hush-Hush Plan In Place To Move A Controversial Statue To Green-Wood Cemetery?

Source: Popular Mechanics Magazine, July 1922 via Wikimedia Commons

A century-old statue once called sexist by former congressman Anthony Weiner and an eyesore by other political figures, may be moving to Green-Wood cemetery.

The “Civic Virtue” statue has been standing along Queens Boulevard, left to weather with no one in caring for it since 1941, after Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, who was tired of looking at it, sent it there. Two female borough presidents, Claire Shulman and current Borough President Helen Marshall were not great admirers of the artwork either.

The managers of privately-owned Green-Wood Cemetery said they would be happy to take the statue.

“We could not stand by idle and see a major work by one of America’s greatest sculptors be allowed to turn to dust,” said Richard Moylan, president of Green-Wood Cemetery.

Cemetery officials said they would also raise funds to restore it.

Sculptor Frederick MacMonnies revealed the work in 1922, wherein it depicted a muscular nude man, who represents civic virtue, victoriously standing above the two sirens of vice and corruption, personified as women. Some have interpreted that as a nude man standing on top of two nude women.

Whether this is a glimpse into a different time when women were treated differently, or whether the complex symbolism is lost on the non-erudite, remains to be determined.

Queens community board advocates have tried unsuccessfully to convince local politicians to restore rather than move the statue, but to no avail.

“We’re outraged that the community that has been so involved in fighting for its preservation has not been consulted,” said Andrea Crawford, chairwoman of Queens Community Board 9.

“The city would never allow any statue in Central Park to deteriorate the way this one has,” said Councilman Peter Vallone Jr., who had previously demanded that statue should be restored and kept in its current location.

Members of the MacMonnies family are buried at Gren-Wood, though the artist is buried at another cemetery.

One man’s priceless, ancient art is another man’s sexist eyesore.

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