Robert Rosenblum

  • Dinos and Jake Chapman

    Way back in 1967, the Kinsey Institute at the University of Indiana held a seminar on erotic art, to which I contributed a paper on Picasso. Behind its very closed doors, barred to all but a few scholars who, presumably, were so soberly academic that nothing at all could shock or titillate them, I was thrilled to have a chance to explore what then seemed my daringly candid, if quasi-scientific, descriptions of the master’s scrambled anatomies: “the mouth is aligned vertically to produce a vulva shape,” “a yawn permits the female sitter’s mouth to open in sphincteral forms,” “the heads often

  • Mondrians I Have Known

    CIRCA 1946: As an arty Manhattan teenager, I thumbtacked onto my bedroom walls a row of color reproductions from the Museum of Modern Art, a precocious declaration of Modernity. I placed Piet Mondrian’s Composition in White, Black, and Red (1936) next to Jean Arp’s wriggly but equally distilled Mountain, Table, Anchors, Navel (1924), in what turned out to be a preview of many slide comparisons in my future (geometric versus biomorphic, etc.). The perpendicular clarity and antiseptic surfaces of the Mondrian clicked partly into place with my Machine Age dreams of a utopian future, but its austerity

  • Robert Rosenblum


    In this Age of Facsimile, I hope it’s not against the rules to give first prize to a show I never got to see, GILBERT & GEORGE’s “Naked Shit Pictures” at the South London Gallery. But at least I had seen several of them in the works, and with the help of the catalogue, I could easily imagine what must have been a quantum leap in G&G’s mural-dimensional world. Within their domain of twinned self-portraiture, there is now a double exposure of both full-frontal and full-dorsal nudity (including buttholes) and, still more alarming, an extraterrestrial invasion of monumental turds. Yet



    Make It New
    Bruce Nauman retrospective, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles: Bad news from the studio, but real news nevertheless. Twenty-five years of pieces, each of which seems to have arisen out of a condition of sudden panic—out of the terror of not knowing, of having forgotten, willfully, day after day, what art is and what an artist might do—of having forgotten, even, what an artist is. A fountain? A source of mystic truths? A cruel instructor? A tortured clown? We get one brutal, last-ditch guess after another, and the whole practice of “artmaking” is reinvented, again

  • A Personal Chronology

    1941 As a precocious kid in New York, I was always prowling around the museums, whose then enlightened policy of free admission was a boon to democratic principles of education. One day I stumbled across a double feature on West 53rd Street that, for complete, mind-boggling transport, turned out to rival Dracula and Frankenstein, a more familiar double bill of the period. The sign on the facade advertised MIRO/DALI, an exotic duo of four-letter names ending in vowels; and if I remember correctly, the latter name was in Victorian lettering, to indicate, I guess, a kind of old-fashioned spookiness

  • Jeff Koons’ Christ and the Lamb

    ANNIVERSARIES MEAN TRIPS down Memory Lane; and now, thinking of 30+ years of Artforum lands me back in March 1965, when I first appeared in a journal already three years old but still the hottest new art-magazine in town. I had a hot and youthful topic, too, Frank Stella, who was then not even as old as Artforum is today, but who had already polarized the art world into the ranks of sneerers versus enthusiasts. Now I’m asked to select a work of art that updates for me those eureka experiences of the 1960s. I make a beeline for Jeff Koons.

    Koons is certainly the artist who has most upset and

  • Gustave Caillebotte: The 1970s and the 1870s

    IN 1946, WHEN JOHN REWALD published the first edition of his indispensable chronicle, The History of Impressionism, he reproduced only two works by a seemingly minor master, the short-lived Gustave Caillebotte (1848–94). A tiny footnote to the Impressionist movement, Caillebotte, if known at all, was usually thought of as a wealthy Sunday painter who was generous and discerning enough to buy master pieces from his circle of artist acquaintances—Monet, Manet, Renoir, Sisley, Pissarro, Degas, Cézanne—and then bequeath them to the state, much to the consternation of academic authority in the 1890s.

  • James Bishop

    ONE WAY TO APPROACH James Bishop’s paintings, seen in New York this fall for the first time at the Fischbach Gallery, is to stress the advantages of their expatriate origin. Bishop has lived in Paris since 1957, returning to this country as a visitor only once, in 1966. His relation to the last decade of American painting, then, has been that of both an outsider and an insider. On the one hand, his art depended fully on the traditions of his native country; but on the other, he has been free from the yearly pressures of abrupt and modish changes exerted upon younger artists who wanted to survive

  • Picasso as Surrealist

    AFTER THE FIRST WORLD WAR, strange rumblings from that subterranean portion of the mind which Freud had called the id began to be felt throughout Western art and letters; and soon, an official commitment to the charting of these irrational regions was made in André Breton’s first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924. Like a seismograph, Picasso’s own art of the twenties quickly registered these disquieting tremors. If the great years of Cubism had concentrated on the creation of a pictorial language as radically new and relevant to our century as the invention of one-point perspective had been to the

  • Frank Stella

    IN THE 20TH CENTURY, AMBITIOUS ARTISTS have often chosen rockbottom as their precarious goal. Whether in terms of Duchamp’s relentless pursuit of the devastating consequences of logic or Mondrian’s pruning of all but the bare and vital skeleton of pictorial illusion, the path that leads to the brink of nothingness has created en route some of our century’s most exhilarating adventures and enduring works. Since 1945, this irrepressible tradition has fathered, among other things, the impulse that stimulated masters like Rothko, Still, Newman, and Louis to reduce their vocabulary to the most