PRINT March 2002

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Artforum, March 1972

Thirty years ago, Leo Steinberg’s “Reflections on the State of Art Criticism” punctured the proscriptive formalism that still held sway over contemporary commentary. Art historian Katy Siegel, who joined our masthead last month as contributing editor, looks back at Steinberg’s paradigm-shifting essay.

EARLY IN 1972, John Coplans, who had recently been appointed editor of Artforum, called Leo Steinberg to ask a favor: Coplans had nothing in the drawer for the upcoming March issue—did Leo have anything? Steinberg, then a professor of Renaissance art history at Hunter College, sent the editor an excerpt from “Other Criteria,” the title essay of his forthcoming collection on modern art. The version that appeared in the magazine thirty years ago this month was called “Reflections on the State of Art Criticism.”

Originally delivered as a MoMA lecture in 1968, the piece broadly addressed contemporary

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