PRINT May 2001


Leo Steinberg

EVERY LEONARDO NEEDS A LEO STEINBERG. Every critic of expansive vision and intellect, every Leo Steinberg, needs a Leonardo—or a Michelangelo, Borromini, Velázquez, or Picasso (Steinberg’s choices): an artist sufficiently profound to repay a lifetime of looking and sustain the critical response. Steinberg’s writing explores human emotion, retrieves arcane cultural signs. finds humor and wisdom intertwined, gathers up the fullness of experience. All inclusive, it suits Leonardo’s immensity.

Leonardo’s Incessant Last Supper, which reworks and extends an essay Steinberg published in Art Quarterly in 1973, attributes inclusiveness to each and every constructed element of the painting, from the central figure of Christ down to reconstructed details of the architectural setting. How many turns of meaning does it take to convert simplicity into inclusive complexity, as opposed to mere

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