Robert Rosenblum

  • Michael Craig-Martin

    Reaching back to Michael Craig-Martin's precocious beginnings in the ’60s as a Duchampian Conceptualist dealing with film and readymades, the show, comprising some fifty works, will expand to acrylic paintings and neon sculptures and to site-specific mural environments that seem to wed Pop to LeWitt.

    In 1989, Michael Craig-Martin, already a talismanic figure for young British artists, had his first retrospective, at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. Now, seventeen years later and in his native Dublin, Craig-Martin’s second retrospective should reveal an artist of even greater breadth and historical magnitude. Reaching back to his precocious beginnings in the ’60s as a Duchampian Conceptualist dealing with film and readymades, the show, comprising some fifty works, will expand to acrylic paintings and neon sculptures and to site-specific mural environments that

  • Robert Rosenblum

    IN UNEXPECTED WAYS, Bill Rubin and I seem to have been twinned for life. He was born in New York City in the summer of 1927 (a Leo only eighteen days my junior), and each of us at one point considered a career in music or musicology before ending up doing graduate work in art history. He went uptown to Columbia, and I went downtown to NYU. I got my Ph.D. in 1956; he got his in 1959. And during those years, when we first met and when most art historians, either out of ignorance or aversion, shied away from contemporary art, we both espoused not only Abstract Expressionism but also the work of a

  • “Gothic Nightmares: Fuseli, Blake and the Romantic Imagination”

    This show promises to be an educational Halloween party. With 160 works, it explores the demons, witches, and elves imagined by two dozen high-minded British visionaries and considers such popular entertainments as “Phantasmagoria.”

    This show promises to be an educational Halloween party. With 160 works, it explores the demons, witches, and elves imagined by two dozen high-minded British visionaries and considers such popular entertainments as “Phantasmagoria,” which offered nineteenth-century Londoners a preview of the modern horror film, complete with grisly slide shows and creepy sounds. This rich territory was a core ingredient in the Romantic imagination, which, from the 1760s on, expanded into an ever-more irrational world. Here, the focus is on the odd couple of Swiss-born Henry Fuseli, with

  • “Modernism: Designing a New World, 1914-1939”

    This exhibition not only extends as far afield as Japan, Brazil, and Israel but mixes the exalted heights of Mondrian and Mies van der Rohe with 350 more-earthbound examples of graphic design, furniture, photography, painting, film, and costume.

    For some die-hards, Modernism with a capital M may still be a religion of absolute truth and beauty, but for the rest of us (especially antique dealers) it's become as much a period style as Second Empire or Art Nouveau. Fraught with the historical nostalgia of a long-lost utopian dream, the movement can now seem as quaint and precious as Bakelite and glass brick, which means it's high time for an all-embracing retrospective. This one not only extends as far afield as Japan, Brazil, and Israel but mixes the exalted heights of Mondrian and Mies van der Rohe with 350

  • Robert Rosenblum

    1 “MATISSE: THE FABRIC OF DREAMS—HIS ART AND HIS TEXTILES” (ROYAL ACADEMY OF ARTS, LONDON; METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, NEW YORK) Instead of kneeling again at Matisse’s shrine, curator Ann Dumas thoroughly resurrected him. The master’s “working library”—a half century’s ragbag accumulation of fleamarket cotton prints, couture gowns, Romanian blouses, North African hangings, and more—was excavated from family trunks and displayed beside the works that incorporated their patterns and textures into landscapes for a new vision of Paradise. Seeing the alchemy that turned rags into riches

  • Elizabeth Murray

    Updating her 1987–88 traveling retrospective, MoMA’s survey of seventy-odd paintings and drawings spanning four decades is a tribute to Elizabeth Murray’s eccentric presence in today’s art world. With a funk sensibility that connects her to the indigenous art of her native Chicago, as well as to Guston and Crumb, she has created her own, Pop-inspired universe swarming with forms resembling Mickey Mouse ears, Dagwood shoes, thought balloons, and domestic objects that morph into illegibility. But her work has equally strong parallels to the story of abstraction, often echoing

  • Egon Schiele

    Put together for the first time, the more than 150 paintings and drawings by Egon Schiele amassed in the collections of Neue Galerie cofounders Ronald Lauder and the late Serge Sabarsky amount to a comprehensive survey of the short-lived rebel’s work. The staged gawkiness of Schiele’s naked bodies—ready for sex or painful self-reflection—not only fit perfectly into the world of Klimt and Freud, but offer a Janus-faced mirror of Viennese art, looking backward to the grimacing busts of Messerschmidt and forward to the kinky body-art performances of Nitsch. And there’s another

  • The Surreal Calder

    “Surrealism,” like “Romanticism,” encompasses a bewildering variety of artists as different as Magritte and Miró. Now Calder will be initiated into this strange fraternity. Often pigeonholed simply as the inventor of the mobile, Calder in fact participated in many of the vital artistic movements of his time, but it was Surrealism that rooted his art in a biomorphic universe. Calder’s flying, crawling creatures, celestial visions, and fantastic constructions from unexpected fragments—dating from 1927 to 1947—will find themselves at home in the company of works by his

  • Salvador Dalí

    Hail to the newborn Salvador Dalí, so often scorned by the last century! Now resurrected in a retrospective for his hundredth birthday (in 2004), he is making a vengeful comeback that will open eyes both old and young. It turns out that he is not only still alive and well (the crowds goggling each painting were testimony to his miracle working), but he is also emerging as a surprisingly unfamiliar master whose work has yet to be integrated into art history.

    My credentials for this overview are venerable. It was in May 1939, just before my twelfth birthday, that I rushed to Flushing Meadow to see

  • Tom Wesselmann

    BY NOW, the works of Tom Wesselmann, who died on December 17, 2004, have become textbook icons of the ’60s. Born in 1931, he began to paint, like other members of his generation, under the shadow of New York’s chef d’école, de Kooning, before veering in the direction of Bonnard’s and Matisse’s domestic interiors. But with the passing of the ’50s, startling intrusions appeared in his work, mirroring one of the landmark rebellions in twentieth-century art. In 1961, for example, in two of the earlier entries in “Great American Nude,” the ongoing series he began in the same year, Wesselmann slipped

  • Little Boy: The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subcultures

    Takashi Murakami's global empire keeps expanding. The next takeover promises to rival even Christo dimensions: transporting the high-tech universe of otaku to Manhattan, where a visiting delegation of Murakami's compatriots will present some two hundred works, immersing us in an ethos of game arcades and shop-window displays.

    Takashi Murakami's global empire keeps expanding, whether he's marketing riffs on Louis Vuitton or kiddie-party decorations for Grand Central Terminal. The next takeover promises to rival even Christo dimensions: transporting the high-tech universe of otaku—that infinite profusion of comics, video games, toys, and websites—to Manhattan, where a visiting delegation of Murakami's compatriots will present some two hundred works, immersing us in an ethos of game arcades and shop-window displays. These installations will turn up everywhere, from subway cars and

  • Robert Rosenblum

    1 “Andy Warhol: The Late Work” (Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz) In a year that honored our pantheon of twentieth-century deities (see below), two Warhol shows soared high. Organized by Mark Francis and Jean-Hubert Martin for Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, “The Late Work” buried stale prejudices that favor ’60s over ’70s and ’80s Warhol by offering an eye-popping spectacle of little-known work, including mural-size crosses and knives, replays of Pollock’s drip paintings as tangled yarn, and takes on Arp’s and Kelly’s organic contours as the flattened profiles of a dozen supermarket eggs.

  • “Post Human”

    A new race of humanoids was spawned in the ’60s. Think of Lichtenstein’s boneless, fleshless housewives, Segal’s mummified city dwellers, Wesselmann’s faceless, airbrushed sex toys. But the tribe kept increasing, as witnessed not just in mutant art, but also in the fin de ’80s tabloids—e.g. Jocelyn Wildenstein’s shrink-wrapped visage. And by now, the human race really is an endangered species. In 1992, this eerie evolution was freeze-framed in a landmark exhibition curated by Jeffrey Deitch. “Post Human,” whose yearlong itinerary—Lausanne, Turin, Athens, Hamburg, Jerusalem—may have bypassed the

  • Art of the Garden

    Celebrating the bicentenary of the Royal Horticultural Society, Tate Britain offers an eccentric bounty of garden-inspired art ranging from trysting places and melancholic inscriptions to bursts of poppies that might have taught Victorians how painting, like flower arrangement, should be about beauty.

    Without Gertrude Jekyll and Sissinghurst, Britain would not be Britain. Celebrating the bicentenary of the Royal Horticultural Society, Tate Britain offers an eccentric bounty of garden-inspired art ranging from trysting places and melancholic inscriptions to bursts of poppies that might have taught Victorians how painting, like flower arrangement, should be about beauty. This anthology of roughly 125 works promises to be neither conservative nor predictable. If Constable and Turner, Spencer and Nash are

  • Robert Rosenblum

    ROBERT ROSENBLUM

    1 “Art Deco 1910–1939” (Victoria and Albert Museum, London) As time travel back to the World of Tomorrow, this theatrical tour de force digs up the lost and giddy civilization of our modernist roots, a Machine Age fantasy covering everything from cigarette lighters to Busby Berkeley film clips. Léger and Brancusi make brief appearances, too, looking even more at home next to Chanel and Rolls-Royce than they do in MoMA’s pantheon. And the global reach of Art Deco couldn’t be more topical, with over-the-top items from India, Mexico, China . . . Whether culled from factories or

  • American Expressionism

    Will the ever-turning wheels of revisionism soon replace AbEx with AmEx? If cultural historian Bram Dijkstra has his way, the answer may be yes.

    Will the ever-turning wheels of revisionism soon replace AbEx with AmEx? If cultural historian Bram Dijkstra has his way, the answer may be yes. Dijkstra has come up with something called American Expressionism, a mood of anxiety and despair that agitated the works of countless artists from the ’20s through the ’50s. Complementing the usual historical accounts (the ascendancy of abstract art, the collective faith in social and technological progress, the flight into regionalism), this new version offers a grim panorama of America’s underbelly. Some names are familiar, but dozens of others should

  • Mike Bidlo

    ROBERT ROSENBLUM: Today you’re thought of as the artist who makes replicas of twentieth-century old masters, from Cézanne and Picasso to Warhol and Lichtenstein. But at the beginning of the ’80s, you could’ve been billed as a performance artist, with your Jackson Pollock performance piece at P.S. 1 and your public re-creation of Guernica in Los Angeles in 1984.

    MIKE BIDLO: I don’t see a dichotomy between performance and artmaking. For me performance adds another component to the work; it’s a way to create a context for my paintings and sculptures. For instance, the story about Jackson Pollock

  • David Salle

    ROBERT ROSENBLUM: We should of course begin with the ’80s. But I’m interested in what happened to you before the curtain went up.

    DAVID SALLE: I came to New York in 1975, after CalArts. I floundered around for a few years, happily. I loved being in New York.

    RR: Your signature style is always so clear in the work we know that it’s hard to imagine what led up to it. What was it like before 1980?

    DS: I had a show at Artists Space, in its original location on Wooster Street, in 1976, when Helene Winer was the director. The pieces were sort of protopaintings, on very large backdrop paper. They were

  • 1982: The Other de Chirico

    WHEN I THINK ABOUT THE AESTHETIC sea change of the early ’80s, I keep coming back to MoMA’s 1982 de Chirico retrospective, which, in fact, was not a retrospective at all. Coming to a halt in the 1930s, it censored more than half his career. (He died in 1978.) The show confirmed the received wisdom that, after his youthful glory days, de Chirico became a traitor to the modernist cause. But William Rubin’s essay in the catalogue also contained an unexpectedly subversive illustration, a double-page spread of eighteen (yes, eighteen!) near identical versions of The Disquieting Muses, 1917, all

  • Robert Rosenblum

    ROBERT ROSENBLUM

    1 “After The Scream: The Late Paintings of Edvard Munch” (High Museum of Art, Atlanta) Few seemed to notice that, after the screams of the 1890s, Munch happened to go on living and painting for some four decades. This vast terra incognita, charted by guest curator Elizabeth Prelinger, may lack the graphic punch of his youthful anxieties, but as Munch got older his work became even more subtly angst ridden. The self-portraits are especially harrowing, like painful diary entries that record everything from the grotesque optical distortions Munch saw reflected in his mirror during