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Rosalind Krauss

THERE SEEMS TO BE an absolute divide between academics and curators, the former engaging with language, the latter with objects. William Rubin would thus have seemed an unlikely candidate for the post of chief curator of painting and sculpture when the Museum of Modern Art was hiring for the position in 1966. But Rubin, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College at the time, had a masterly way with objects. His personal collection already boasted several masterpieces of Abstract Expressionism, including works by Barnett Newman, Mark Rothko, and Ad Reinhardt, as well as the sculpture many consider David Smith’s finest work: Australia, 1951. Constituting as his collection did an absolute qualification for the MoMA position, Rubin was happy when Vogue commissioned an article on it, with a text written by Annette Michelson.

A superb teacher, Rubin remained independent of aesthetic ideologies, even

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