New York

Leon Golub

The Drawing Center

An analyst and chronicler of violence, Leon Golub was a great shifter of the content of painting, which he wrenched into a career-long consideration of the ancient endurance of the aggressive impulse and of both the artist’s and the ordinary citizen’s moral responsibility in the face of it. To meet the brutality of his subject matter, his process was strenuous—he used to joke (or was he joking?) about attacking the canvas with an ax—and the surfaces of his works were scarred and flayed to prove it. In poor health during the last five years of his life (he died in 2004), Golub basically set this physically demanding practice aside to concentrate on drawing, making well over four hundred works, from which the selection here came. In some respects unlike anything I know from his earlier years, these drawings—of skulls and satyrs, victims and aggressors, dogs and lions, and, often, of sex—are

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