I came away from the recent antiwar, anti-Bush administration art exhibition, “A Knock at the Door …” at Cooper Union and the South Street Seaport Museum with acute feelings of discouragement, frustration, and anger.

Works included a large hollowed-out book with a device rigged to look as if it might explode; a card in a clear plastic box, declaring “Artwork removed pending investigation;” a memorial to a star American football player killed by misdirected fire in Afghanistan; a warning, “FEAR ART.”

I was disturbed by the mild tone and shallow content of the show. It presented nothing equal to the fix we are in.

Nor, recalling the protest art of the past, anything approaching the power of Pablo Picasso’s “Guernica,” or Philip Guston’s “Bombardment” and his later grotesque, desperate self-portraits, hooded thugs, visions of the future: apocalyptic landscapes; or David Smith’s series of anti-war bronze plaques.

Absent were an awareness of the great works of the past, of examples of brilliance and genius, that might inspire artists in wartime America.