PRINT February 2001


It must have been a shocker when Clement Greenberg, apparently inspired by the art of Horacio Torres, announced in the early ’70s that he had gotten it wrong, that figurative painting (nudes!) was the better, truer modernism. More a rhetorical flourish than a genuine testament of reversed faith, the remark serves as a reminder that no matter how definitively it seems to disappear (or be disappeared) from the discourse at certain moments, the figure in painting refuses to go away. Perhaps because the “contemporary” cannot be second-guessed; perhaps because the conundrum of the body persists, because the body will not be figured out or figured.

Of course, I don’t exactly jump out of bed when I hear the words “contemporary figurative painting,” because I don’t really go in for caricature—which, of late, rules in almost all figurative painting, and I’m not just thinking about distortion of the

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