Barbara Rose

  • Filthy Pictures: Some Chapters in the History of Taste

    IT IS SURPRISING THAT Sir Kenneth Clark, in his “The Nude, A Study in Ideal Form,” confines his discussion of the most obvious category to which the nude belongs, the erotic, to a few remarks in the opening chapter, in which he differentiates the naked from the nude. Pausing only to dispute the Victorian notion that the nude as a subject should not arouse erotic desire in the viewer, he contends instead that “no nude, however abstract, should fail to arouse in the spectator some vestige of erotic feeling, even though it be only the faintest shadow––and if it does not do so, it is bad art and

  • Beyond Vertigo: Optical Art at the Modern

    IN AN OMNIBUS EXHIBITION called “The Responsive Eye,” the Museum of Modern Art has housed together in one amorphous (and hence relatively meaningless) category examples of nearly every kind of non-painterly painting done in the West since the war. (Also included were some glass, plastic and metal objects, descendants of Constructivist and neo-Plastic sculpture.) Within this category, which, I take it, was meant to be comprehensive but ultimately was only confusing, were: 1) works by the various European visual research groups (the Spanish Equipo 57, the German Group Zero, the French Groupe de

  • Looking at American Sculpture

    THE WHITNEY MUSEUM’S ANNUAL EXHIBITIONS OF AMERICAN ART, which show painting one year and sculpture the next, have been easy to dismiss for some time (like the Carnegie and Guggenheim Internationals) as serving up the same predictable hash of the academic and the second-rate, garnished with a few masterpieces that always seemed to have gotten in by mistake. But recently things have been looking up at the Whitney (and one can only be thankful to whomever put the burr under the old walrus). Last year’s painting Annual was relatively interesting, and the current sculpture show is certainly a fair