What Could Have Been (sculpture)

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Date: 2000

Region: North America

Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion

Medium: Public Art Sculpture


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Artist: David Lewis

Confronting Bodies: Residents of Hyannis, Massachusetts

Date of Action: 2000

Location: Hyannis, Massachusetts USA

Description of Artwork: The piece under debate is David Lewis’ proposed sculpture honoring John F. Kennedy Jr titled What Could Have Been. The sketch of the intended sculpture depicts a poignant image of the late President John. F. Kennedy walking with his arm around his grown son, John F. Kennedy Jr. The sketch in which both father and son are dressed in casual attire is powerful tribute to a father and son who both died too young.

The Incident: After the tragic death of John F. Kennedy Jr. in the summer of 1999, the sculptor David Lewis felt that Mr. Kennedy should be honored along with his father. So, in August 2000, Lewis unveiled a proposed $300,000 sculpture of the two, to be placed in Hyannis, Massachusetts. The town council of Barnstable, in which Hyannis is located, gave its approval. So did the Kennedy family. In August 2000, the project was put on hold for, although the president died when his son was barely 3 years old, the sculpture depicts them both as adults. It was a historical anachronism that many residents felt was in poor taste.

Results of Incident: Lewis' sculpture tributing John F. Kennedy Jr. was intended to be placed in Hyannis, Mass. but was never completed due to objections by residents in the area. Lewis did create small versions of the sculpture for private sale.

Source: New York Times article from September 17, 2000