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Then: Synonymous with controversy. żBut he was a very classical kind of photographer -- really, very conventional and beautiful. It's the subject matter that shocked." (Warren) His frank, explicit photographs of nudes and homoerotic themes made him a cultural line in the sand, particularly in terms of arts funding.
Now: "He's still incredibly important for a whole catalog of reasons, but particularly because he was the fuse for the second round of the Culture Wars, which led to Congress questioning the National Endowment for the Arts, the subject of decency becoming an issue in terms of distributing arts grants. The NEA is a more timid agency these days." (Michael Dorf, Chicago lawyer/ SAIC professor specializing in art and the law)