In This Review
The Monument: Art, Vulgarity And Responsibility In Iraq

The Monument: Art, Vulgarity And Responsibility In Iraq

By Samir al-Khalil

University of California Press, 1991, 168 pp.

The author of the acclaimed Republic of Fear (reviewed in Foreign Affairs, Fall 1989) contemplates with distaste the relations between art and Saddam Hussein in today's (or yesterday's) Iraq. Taking as his starting point (or chief target) the egregious Victory Arch constructed by Hussein to commemorate Iraq's "victory" in the Iraq-Iran War, he traces the decline of public art in Iraq from a high point in the 1950s, when it led the Arab world in the visual arts, to its deformation under the Baath regime. He blames the regime but also the artists for allowing themselves to be suborned and the Iraqi public for its supine acceptance of monstrosities. Cited as "unwitting culprits" are none other than Andy Warhol and Robert Venturi.