Robert Rosenblum

  • “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

  • David Inshaw, The Badminton Game, 1972-73

    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

  • Pretzel Vendor, 1929

    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

  • La Feuille de vigne, 1922.

    Francis Picabia

    By now it’s no longer audacious to turn from one Picabia, a major player in the annals of Dada, to another: the silly old artist whose late works, with their puckish anthology of reactionary, “neo” styles, once provoked outrage or embarrassment but now look like ancestral figures of postmodern hipdom. (They even launch the current Pompidou show “Cher Peintre,” an anthology of new realist painting.) This retrospective, curated by Suzanne Pagé and Gérard Audinet (with catalogue essays by, among others, Dave Hickey), presents the whole story at last, and

  • Lucian Freud, Head of Leigh Bowery, 1991, oil on canvas, 20 x 16"

    Lucian Freud’s Constable

    How surprising is it that Lucian Freud is curating a Constable show in Paris? Not at all, in fact, for while the YBAs have tried to upset the establishment, the OBAs have lately been digging their heels hard into the past. “Encounters: New Art from Old,” the millennial show at London’s National Gallery, reinforced this retrospection by calling on twenty-four artists, thirteen of them British, to select one of the collection’s masterpieces and translate it into their own idiom. In their choices British art also figured large: Turner turned up twice, thoroughly digested and resurrected by Cy

  • Homage to Francis Bacon, 2002.

    Takashi Murakami

    If Manet and all those Impressionists loved Japanese prints for their weightless, shadowless world of elegant line and pure color and collected the exotic bric-a-brac of fans, screens, and kimonos, what would they have made of Takashi Murakami? As with Mariko Mori’s tableaux, his superflat comic faces, magic mushrooms, decal flowers, and lanternlike balloons are rooted in Japan’s vast Pop universe, with inspiration coming from trashy magazines and coloring books. This show of mainly new work, curated by Hervé Chandès and Hélène Kelmachter, expands

  • Bhupen Khakhar

    Combining gay liberation and globalism, Bhupen Khakhar, like the equally queer and ethnic Mexican painter Nahum Zenil, couldn’t be more PC. Born in Bombay in 1934, he came out of the closet in the ’80s, depicting his new self both in heaven and on earth. If his local deities had all those arms and all that sex, why shouldn’t he paint a runny-nosed man with five penises or a male couple (one old, one young) in Nirvana? His free-floating, neon-glowing fantasies have many Western connections, too. David Hockney was an inspiration and Howard Hodgkin an ardent fan. Enrique