new-york

Robert Longo

Brooklyn Museum

Robert Longo is the Francis Ford Coppola of the art world. With his extravagant conceptual claims, his bombast and sentiment, his epic scale, and his autobiographical insistence, Longo’s work either puzzles or inspires: there’s no middle ground. Like Coppola, Longo gambles that he can move not just an individual consciousness but an entire zeitgeist. That’s an outsized goal, and it’s finally transcendental in the great-white-whale-seeking tradition.

Not that these lofty ambitions always translate so clearly. Sometimes Longo’s combine sculptures are so overdetermined, so packed with meaning, that they implode, turning into non sequitur billboards of mystifying—rather than mystical—import. What is not in question is their relentless, searching energy, a quality that can override their analytical flaws to galvanize the work into brute provocation.

In this exhibition Longo presented a typically

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