PRINT November 2004


Gerald Marzorati on Leon Golub

IT COULD BE SAID that the world caught up to Leon Golub last spring, just months before he died from complications of surgery on August 8 at the age of eighty-two. The images that emerged in April of what transpired when darkness fell at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad horrified the world, Golub included, no doubt, but they couldn’t have taken him by surprise. He’d already conjured them with paint, slowly teasing pictures of abuse, torture, and degradation from his careful reading of progressive journals and from photos that he clipped from S/M magazines and, ultimately, from the deeper recesses of his psyche, where it always seemed to be 3 AM and a pitiless man with someone scared and vulnerable in his charge was capable of just about anything. In series such as “Mercenaries,” “White Squad,” and “Interrogation” (begun in the late ’70s and early ’80s and first shown in New York at the

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