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Is the dingus Spanish impresario Jaume Plensa wants to build in the middle of Fayetteville Street the most brilliant work of modern art in the twenty-first century – or is it a good old-fashioned flim-flam? Is Mr. Plensa Picasso – or P.T. Barnum?

The leaders of Raleigh’s art circles say Plensa has woven aircraft cables, flashing lights, and a rectangle of grass together into a work of sheer genius. Others, who are less kind, say we are about to buy some chicken wire, Christmas tree lights and a putting green (which the city manager says is never going to grow grass) for $4.25 million.

Who’s right? Is Plensa’s “Putting Green” a brilliant, inconceivable, spectacular work of abstract art by a modern-day Michelangelo – or a hustle? It sounds a bit like a hustle for one reason: the price soared from $2.5 to $4.25 million as quick as you can say “abstract art.”

Maybe we ought to take a deep breath and pause before we start telling ourselves Plensa’s “Putting Green” is high art like the Sistine Chapel and that we have one-upped Richmond and Charlotte in the abstract art category. After all, if Mr. Plensa turns out to be Professor Harold Hill instead of Rodin – we might end up looking downright foolish.

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One comment on “Picasso or P.T. Barnum?

  1. jstegall says:

    Thank you, Mr. Wren, for reviving the word ‘dingus’ (something whose name is forgotten or unknown) from the unfortunate obscurity into which it has lately sunk. Without such efforts, future generations would be unable to follow the plot of “The Maltese Falcon.” And that would be a great lose indeed.

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