Robert Kushner

DC Moore Gallery

The decorative has long had a bad name in modern art, yet it’s been there from the very beginning. “It can only do you good to be forced to decorate,” Gauguin wrote to his friend Daniel de Monfried in 1892, while in 1953, Clement Greenberg noted “how intense and profound sheer decoration, or what looks like sheer decoration, can be.” Greenberg admired the “large, monumental kind of decorative painting” produced by Bonnard, thought Cézanne wanted to emulate “the decorative masters” Rubens and Veronese, and argued that even Beckmann “realiz[ed] decorative design in spite of [his] inability to think it through consciously,” thus “overcom[ing] his lack of technical ‘feel’ and . . . translat[ing] his art to the heights,” (“the heights” being a “transfigured kind of decoration” achieved “by reconstructing the flat picture surface with the very means of its denial”).

Robert Kushner is arguably

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