New York

Robert Longo

Metro Pictures

Robert Longo’s “Freud Drawings,” 2000, don’t quite have the suave elegance of his 1978–83 “Men in the Cities” series, for which he is best known. The large black-and-white format and charcoal-and-graphite medium are the same, but the stark contrasts here seem more forced. One can’t help but wonder if Longo is trying too hard to revisit the scene of an earlier success. Nevertheless, these drawings do have a certain authority, attributable partly to their reference to Freud but also to their “defeat” of the documentary photographs that are their point of departure.

Edmund Engelman photographed in great detail Freud’s office and residence at Berggasse 19 in Vienna in 1938, days before the Nazis allowed the psychoanalyst to leave for London. While Engelman’s images are crisp, clear, and readily readable, Longo’s drawings are murky, enigmatic, and melodramatic—a menacing hyperbole of black-and-white

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