PRINT May 2006


William Rubin in the office of his loft at Thirteenth Street and Broadway, New York, 1967. Photo: William Grigsby.  © Condé Nast Archive/Corbis.

Arguably the most important postwar curator of twentieth-century art, William S. Rubin (1927–2006) succeeded Alfred H. Barr Jr. as the guiding force behind the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibitions and collection of painting and sculpture for two decades, from 1968 to 1988. An eminent art historian and prescient collector—as this 1967 view of his loft attests—Rubin maintained a lively connection to Artforum for much of his career, contributing to these pages major essays, interviews, and perhaps the most spirited and trenchant letters in the magazine’s history. It therefore gives us great pleasure to publish here for the first time an exclusive series of excerpts from the scholarly memoir Rubin was completing when he passed away in January, at the age of seventy-eight. The selection chronicles his close relationship with Picasso in the early ’70s, revealing in its fullest detail the story behind his acquisition of the artist’s famed Guitar of 1912–14, as well as the depth of intellectual camaraderie between the two men. Preceding the text, a distinguished lineup of colleagues and friends—Yve-Alain Bois, Richard E. Oldenburg, Frank Stella, Rosalind Krauss, Robert Rosenblum, and Richard Serra—reflect on an indelible, if at times contested, legacy that continues to shape our view of the art of the twentieth century as we journey into the twenty-first.