Leo Steinberg  

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-'''''The Painted Word''''' is a [[1975]] book of [[art criticism]] by [[Tom Wolfe]].  
-== Background ==+'''Leo Steinberg''' (July 9, 1920 – March 13, 2011) was an [[American art critic]] and [[art historian]] and a [[naturalized]] citizen of the U.S. He was the son of [[Isaac Nachman Steinberg]].
-By the 1970s Wolfe was, according to Douglas Davis of ''[[Newsweek]]'' magazine "more of a celebrity than the celebrities he describes." The success of Wolfe's previous books, in particular ''[[The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test]]'' in 1968 and ''[[Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers]]'' in 1970 had given Wolfe ''carte blanche'' from his publisher to pursue any topic he desired. In the midst of working on stories about the space program for ''[[Rolling Stone]]''—stories that would eventually grow into the 1979 book ''[[The Right Stuff (book)|The Right Stuff]]''—Wolfe became interested in writing a book about modern art. As a journalist, Wolfe had devoted much of his writing career to pursuing [[realism]]; in the world of art, even more than in literature, Wolfe was disturbed by the lack of any persuasive theory of realism.+
-Prior to publication in book form, ''The Painted Word'' was excerpted in ''[[Harper's Magazine]]''. Wolfe's longtime publisher [[Farrar, Straus & Giroux]] released the book in 1975.+Steinberg has won literary awards as well as awards for his criticism. He was [[professor]] of the [[Art History|History of Art]] at [[Hunter College]], and is a Benjamin Franklin and University Professor of the History of Art, [[Emeritus]], at the [[University of Pennsylvania]]. Steinberg is known for his work in several areas of Art History, notably [[Renaissance art]] and [[Modernism]].
-== Themes == 
-Wolfe's thesis in ''The Painted Word'' was that by the 1970s [[modern art]] had moved away from being a visual experience, and more often was an illustration of art critics' theories. Wolfe criticized [[avant-garde art]], [[Andy Warhol]], [[Willem de Kooning]] and [[Jackson Pollock]]. The main target of Wolfe's book, however, was not so much the artists as the critics. In particular, Wolfe criticized three prominent art critics whom he dubbed the kings of "Cultureburg": [[Clement Greenberg]], [[Harold Rosenberg]] and [[Leo Steinberg]]. Wolfe argued that the three men were dominating the world of art with their theories and that, unlike the world of literature in which anyone can buy a book, the art world was controlled by an insular circle of rich collectors, museums and critics with out-sized influence. 
-Wolfe provides his own history of what he sees as the devolution to modern art. He summarized that history: "In the beginning we got rid of nineteenth-century storybook realism. Then we got rid of representational objects. Then we got rid of the third dimension altogether and got really flat (Abstract Expressionism). Then we got rid of airiness, brushstrokes, most of the paint, and the last viruses of drawing and complicated designs". After providing examples of other techniques and the schools that abandoned them, Wolfe concluded with [[conceptual art]]: "…there, at last, it was! No more realism, no more representation objects, no more lines, colors, forms, and contours, no more pigments, no more brushstrokes. … Art made its final flight, climbed higher and higher in an ever-decreasing tighter-turning spiral until…it disappeared up its own fundamental aperture…and came out the other side as Art Theory!…Art Theory pure and simple, words on a page, literature undefiled by vision…late twentieth-century Modern Art was about to fulfill its destiny, which was: to become nothing less than Literature pure and simple".+In 1972, Steinberg introduced the idea of the "flatbed picture plane" in his book, ''[[Other Criteria]]'', a collection of essays on artists including [[Jackson Pollock]], [[Pablo Ruiz Picasso]], [[Phillip Guston]], [[Robert Rauschenberg]], and [[Willem de Kooning]].
-== Critical reception ==+The whole of the Summer, 1983, issue of [[October (journal)|October]] was dedicated to Steinberg's essay ''[[The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion]],'' later published as a book by [[Random House]]. In that essay, Steinberg examined a previously ignored pattern in Renaissance art: the prominent display of the [[genitals]] of the infant [[Jesus Christ|Christ]], and the attention drawn again to that area in images of Christ near the [[Passion (Christianity)|end of his life]].
-"''The Painted Word'' hit the art world like a really bad, MSG-headache-producing, Chinese lunch," wrote [[Rosalind E. Krauss]] in ''[[Partisan Review]]''. By ridiculing the most respected members of the art world establishment, Wolfe had ensured that the reaction to his book would be negative. Many reviewers dismissed Wolfe as someone simply too ignorant of art to write about it.+
-Other critics responded with such similar vitriol and hostility that Wolfe said their response demonstrated that the art community only talked to each other. A review in ''[[The New Republic]]'' called Wolfe a fascist and compared him to the brain-washed assassin in the film ''[[The Manchurian Candidate]]''. Wolfe was particularly amused, however, by a series of criticisms that resorted to "X-rated insults." An artist compared him to "A six-year-old at a pornographic movie; he can follow the action of the bodies but he can't comprehend the ''nuances''." A critic in ''[[Time Magazine]]'' used the same image, but with an 11-year-old boy. A review in ''[[The New York Times Book Review]]'' used the image again, clarifying that the boy was a eunuch. The opening of the review in ''[[Partisan Review]]'' compared Wolfe to the star of the pornographic film ''[[Deep Throat (film)|Deep Throat]]''. She viewed Wolfe's lack of a suggestion for what should replace modern art as similar in their ignorance to statements [[Linda Lovelace]] made about ''Deep Throat'' being a "kind of goof."+In [[Tom Wolfe]]'s 1975 book, ''[[The Painted Word]]'', Steinberg was labelled one of the "kings of Cultureburg" for the enormous degree of influence that his criticism, along with that of other "kings," [[Clement Greenberg]] and [[Harold Rosenberg]], exerted over the world of modern art at the time. However, Steinberg, who originally trained as an artist but earned a [[PhD]] in Art History, moved away from art criticism, concentrating on academic art-historical studies of such artists and architects as [[Borromini]], [[Michelangelo]], and [[Leonardo da Vinci]].
-In defense of critics Rosenberg, Greenberg, and Steinberg, Rosalind Krauss noted that each man wrote about art "in ways that are entirely diverse." Writing in ''[[Newsweek]]'', Douglas Davis wrote that ''The Painted Word'' fails because of how it departed from Wolfe's previous works. Wolfe's other non-fiction, Davis wrote, was deeply reported, but here "Wolfe did not get away from the typewriter and out into the thick of his subject."+In 1995-1996 Steinberg was a professor at [[Harvard University]].
-Outside the art community, some reviewers noted that however unpopular Wolfe's book may have been in art circles, many of his observations were essentially correct, particularly about the de-objectification of art and the rise of art theory.+== Works ==
 +* ''[[Other Criteria]]'', [[1972]]
 +* "[[The Philosophical Brothel]]", [[1974]], an essay on Picasso's ''[[Les Demoiselles d'Avignon]]''
 +* ''Pontormo's Capponi Chapel." Art Bulletin 56, no. 3 (1974): 385-99.
 +* ''[[The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion]], 1983
 +* ''[[Leonardo's Incessant Last Supper]]'', 2001
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Leo Steinberg (July 9, 1920 – March 13, 2011) was an American art critic and art historian and a naturalized citizen of the U.S. He was the son of Isaac Nachman Steinberg.

Steinberg has won literary awards as well as awards for his criticism. He was professor of the History of Art at Hunter College, and is a Benjamin Franklin and University Professor of the History of Art, Emeritus, at the University of Pennsylvania. Steinberg is known for his work in several areas of Art History, notably Renaissance art and Modernism.


In 1972, Steinberg introduced the idea of the "flatbed picture plane" in his book, Other Criteria, a collection of essays on artists including Jackson Pollock, Pablo Ruiz Picasso, Phillip Guston, Robert Rauschenberg, and Willem de Kooning.

The whole of the Summer, 1983, issue of October was dedicated to Steinberg's essay The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, later published as a book by Random House. In that essay, Steinberg examined a previously ignored pattern in Renaissance art: the prominent display of the genitals of the infant Christ, and the attention drawn again to that area in images of Christ near the end of his life.

In Tom Wolfe's 1975 book, The Painted Word, Steinberg was labelled one of the "kings of Cultureburg" for the enormous degree of influence that his criticism, along with that of other "kings," Clement Greenberg and Harold Rosenberg, exerted over the world of modern art at the time. However, Steinberg, who originally trained as an artist but earned a PhD in Art History, moved away from art criticism, concentrating on academic art-historical studies of such artists and architects as Borromini, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci.

In 1995-1996 Steinberg was a professor at Harvard University.

Works




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