Robert Rosenblum

  • Robert Rosenblum


    1 Jeff Koons, Puppy One of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World blossomed this summer in New York, usurping for the time being the sacred site of Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree. A joy for all, save those who prohibit smiling in the presence of art, it united the Great Sphinx at Giza with Disney-style topiary, while adding the chromatic and textural delights of burgeoning marigolds and petunias to the monumentality of an archaic idol. With one giant step, Koons defined a new public sculpture that brings pleasure to city dwellers.

    2 Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio (Lenox,

  • “Francis Picabia: Late Paintings”

    Way back in the twentieth century, the Lord saw that, in later life, some of the saints of early modern art had begun to commit heresy, and He decreed that at this critical point they were to be desanctified. The fall of rebel angels included, of course, such late-style dropouts as Chagall, de Chirico, and Picabia, and even embraced postwar Picasso. But around 1980, when modernism no longer seemed so modern, one blasphemer after another began to take on the lure of forbidden fruit, challenging us to flick a switch or two and to look again at what once seemed beyond the pale of aesthetic decency.

  • Sigmar Polke: On Goya

    In the fin-de-siècle category of art about art, where everything from Fouquet to Kuniyoshi gets quoted, Sigmar Polke’s resurrections of Goya have a special place. Like ghosts, Goya’s macabre images often live in the very weave of Polke’s work, quite literally so with the acrylic-on-fabric phantoms culled from the Caprichos. Now, in an exhibition curated by Gloria Moure, his ongoing homages will be gathered together, with special focus on the 1812 Las Viejas. Polke, with familiar alchemical magic, has scrutinized the buried layers of Goya’s canvas with X rays and the naked eye, as if to summon

  • Robert Rosenblum

    1. The Revival of Portraiture
    Once occupying the lowest rung of the modernist ladder, portraiture is again alive and well. Central to the ’90s (Close, Sherman, Ruff, Morimura), it has also reoriented our view with respect to the old masters. Within recent memory, shows of Degas, Renoir, Picasso, and Ingres have all focused on their sitters; and then there’s the rediscovery of high-society portraiture, ca. 1900, as witnessed by the success of the Sargent show, a virtual-reality trip out of Merchant Ivory.

    2. Could Artists Be Human? Not only their sitters, but artists themselves are being freshly


    Homi K. Bhabha: The times are out of joint, perhaps never more so than when we are seduced by that decade-end desire to say, One last time, what was the great work of the ’90s? The ’90s began in the late late ’80s with the big bang of The Satanic Verses, and the decade dribbles on with small arms sniping around an elephant-dung madonna. In between times, we realize how powerful is the appeal to religious orthodoxy; how insecure our sense of the secular; how fragile any idea of global cultural understanding; how the politics of art rarely lies in the artifice itself, but all around it, in the

  • "The Art of Bloomsbury

    With a glamorous cast that includes Lytton Strachey, E.M. Forster, and Virginia Woolf and its spicy scenarios of sexual liberation, “Bloomsbury” has become by now a synonym for privileged British bohemianism. But if the arty milieu has been resurrected by the likes of Ken Russell and Merchant-Ivory, the actual work of Duncan Grant, Vanessa Bell, and Roger Fry (who coined the term Post-Impressionism in 1910 for the pivotal exhibition he hoped would plant the Parisian seeds of modern art’s mystery in alien London soil) is seldom seen. “The Art of Bloomsbury,” an exhibition curated by Richard Shone,

  • “Matthew Barney: Cremaster 2”

    Anticipation of the fourth and penultimate installment (numbered 2) of the fabled and fabulous “Cremaster” series might help us imagine what waiting for the premiere of the next opera in the Ring Cycle was like. Reincarnating everything from Rhine maidens to Busby Berkeley musicals, Barney creates haunting archetypes in a breathtaking pageantry of Wagnerian ambition. Visiting ever stranger territory, this new operatic film follows Gary Gilmore in his pursuit of Houdini (played by Norman Mailer) in the afterlife. Jonathan Bepler, whose late-Romantic score for Cremaster 5 engulfed Budapest's opera

  • “Andy Warhol: Photography”

    By 1962, photography had seeped so seamlessly into the weave of Warhol's canvases that we almost forgot the difference between the two media. But now, on the occasion of Hamburg's First Photography Triennial, Warhol the shutterbug is to be separated from Warhol the painter. With a big curatorial sweep that catches everything from Polaroids and photo-booth portraits to movies and celebrity exposures, the show traces the orbit of yet another planet in the expanding Warhol universe. Paralleling the recent revelation of Picasso's enormous photographic corpus as an ongoing dialogue with his painting

  • Gustave Moreau

    GUSTAVE MOREAU, WHO DIED IN 1898, has led many unexpected afterlives. Known as a liberal teacher, he slipped into modernist art history because he apparently nurtured in such students as Henri Matisse, Georges Rouault, and Albert Marquet a taste for chromatic impasto fantasies that heralded Fauvism. For the Surrealists, however, he would become another kind of ancestor, the creator, in André Breton’s words, of a “somnambulistic world” and an occasional inspiration for Max Ernst’s densest dream forests. And then he took on yet another guise for a generation that had just witnessed the triumph

  • “Robert Gober: Sculpture + Drawing”

    Welcome to Goberworld, a retrospective (curated by the Walker’s Richard Flood) that begins with the unfamiliar Slides of a Changing Painting (1982–83), an evolutionary photographer cord of the ongoing metamorphoses of a single picture over a year’s time, and ends with a new installation that we can only hope will rival the unforgettable neo-Catholic grotto he exhibited in Los Angeles in 1997. Any wizard who can turn the Virgin Mary’s concrete womb into a drainage pipe should have us rushing to this fuller view of his achievement. Feb. 14–May 9; travels to Rooseum Center, Malmö, Sweden, Sept.

  • Mel Ramos

    Our planet has really shrunk when a ’60s vintage California Pop artist gets a retrospective organized not by a compatriot but by Walter Guadagnini, director of Modena’s Galleria Civica, leaving us to wonder how the Italians will greet this fan of American vulgarity (and precocious purveyor of political incorrectness). In 1999, Mel Ramos’s repertoire—Flash Gordon, Chiquita Banana, and great paintings (from David to de Kooning) transported to his native land of sunshine and bikinis—should gain a fresh audience. Feminists may line up in protest but connoisseurs of kitsch will surely bask

  • Robert Rosenblum

    1. Pierre Bonnard (Museum of Modern Art, New York; co-organized by the Tate Gallery, London) The delicious paradox in the title of Richard Howard’s poem “Bonnard: A Novel” has finally come into focus. I had always thought this out-of-sync master made French confections too pretty and boneless for the tough narrative of twentieth-century art. How his plot has suddenly thickened! The cloistered, fragrant mysteries of the artist’s private world, with its hide-and-seek muses, now evoke the eeriness of Hitchcock. And these autobiographical ghosts finally stare at us head-on in a heartbreaking group