Civic Virtue, a statue designed by sculptor Frederick MacMonnies in the early 1900s, has been the subject of controversy since the artwork landed in Kew Gardens 71 years ago. The piece was intended to depict “good government over corruption.” But the marble statue – showing a nude, classical male figure representing Civic Virtue standing atop twin sirens representing Vice and Corruption – has been assailed as sexist.
There’s no disagreement that Civic Virtue, after decades of exposure to the elements intersection of Union Turnpike and Queens Boulevard, is crumbling. But there’s little accord on whether it’s worth spending public funds to restore MacMonnies’ statue.
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