For the past hundred years, democratic governments have had to grapple with a range of thorny public policy questions that emerge from the arts. Setting aside more general problems of free speech, injurious influence, and copyright restriction-issues which pertain to many kinds of speech-I want to suggest that policy-makers have had to confront some specifically artistic questions that have arisen in the wake of the modernist avantgarde. The avant-garde was a set of late nineteenth and early twentieth century artistic movements that were proud of their rejection of both officially sanctioned academic art and mass culture, assigning the highest moral and aesthetic value to the art that satisfied the smallest audience. They claimed authenticity only for the art that challenged familiar and conventional tastes. “Public art” became something of an oxymoron in a context where art deliberately flouted public approval. Yet Western governments continued to exhibit, protect, and commission works of art throughout the twentieth century, citing the value of art for national edification, identity, and pride. Thus art policy found itself continually split. If artists insisted that the only genuine art was that which defied public expectations, democracies had to reconcile an official respect for art with an art world that deliberately resisted the tastes and preferences of both state institutions and the voting majority.