New York

“Leon Golub: Paintings, 1950–2000”

Brooklyn Museum

CRUELLY TRUNCATED IN ITS BROOKLYN HANGING after its inaugural run at the sprawling Irish Museum of Modern Art, this exhibition was hardly a retrospective—but I'll forgive it that for starting things off with a fine mess. Spat out roughly midway along the triumphant march that led from Jasper Johns's 1954–55 Flag to Barbara Kruger's 1991 version emblazoned on the exterior of the Mary Boone Gallery in New York, Golub's Napalm Flag, 1970, desecrates à la Dubuffet. If the trajectory traced from Johns to Kruger transformed the avant-garde's target from individual myth to the mass media, one realizes that this has been Golub's trajectory too. Napalm Flag marks the turning point. The flag was summarily painted and then ripped apart. Its fragments are sutured back together, but clumsily, the seam's mismatch all too evident. And then the surface is attacked with broad stains of red, excrescences

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