Remember, a few months ago, when Melania Trump stripped the White House Rose Garden of the Rose trees that Jackie Kennedy planted there? Now she’s added a sculpture - an angular abstract bronze titled Floor Frame that looks to me like debris from a construction site.

More than one

The bronze, made in 1962, was cast multiple times by sculptor Isamu Noguchi - which means this new addition to the White House art collection is not one-of-a-kind. But that’s not my objection to it.

Is diversity the aim?

News of the installation widely headlined the ethnicity of the American-born artist as Japanese American, additionally laboring the point that he’s the first of his race to have a work in the White House art collection.

With headlines like that, you’d think installing "Floor Frame" to the Rose Garden was some high point in representative government. Melania said as much in an Instagram, that setting "Floor Frame" in the Rose Garden “represents the important contributions of Asian American artists.”

Reasons why

Is that the point of the Rose Garden installation, to demonstrate egalitarianism? Is that how Americans are to measure "Floor Frame", by the artist’s roots? Or was the main idea for the installation something else? In her Instagram, Melania suggested something else: “The art piece is humble in scale, complements the authority of the Oval Office.”

In the shadows

So, did "Floor Frame" get picked because of its unostentatious lowly height?

Given the sheepish elevation, it must look almost bashful to the Trumps. Is that what attracted Melania, a work that doesn’t detract from the “authority of the Oval Office”? As if her husband hadn’t already diminished the office with his antics.

Floor philosophy

Aside from what Melania thought, there’s what Noguchi intended, which makes clear "Floor Frame" is in the wrong place.

He told Art News back when he made the sculpture that he was thinking of the “essentiality of floor.” In that case, the bronze work would be better suited for an actual floor, not a garden.

Stone in the garden

Besides, if a work by Noguchi is the artist of choice for the Rose Garden, one of his stone works would have been the better pick.

Historian Katherine Hoffman quotes him in her 1946 Book “Explorations: The Visual Arts Since 1945” saying, “Stone is the primary medium, and nature is where it is, and nature is where we have to go to experience life.”

For that experience, something like Noguchi’s “Landscape in Time,” five carved and weathered granite boulders in varying sizes standing before the Seattle Federal Building, would be fitting in the Rose Garden.

Don't count on it

One more thing. Brett Littman, who directs the Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Queens, NY, told the New York Times that may not end up being true. He said while administrations come and go, "Floor Frame" will stay “in perpetuity.” How can you say that, Brett?

Didn’t Melania just remove Jackie Kennedy’s Rose Garden trees?

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