Harold Rosenberg

When I read the solution offered by Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the National Rifle Association, to the ever-growing number of massacres at schools—that we need “good guys” with guns to protect us from “bad guys” with guns—I initially thought he was joking, a bad joke, yet joking nonetheless.

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For a moment, the crowd that was constantly amassing around the painting singled out by the organizers of the MOMA’s Willem de Kooning retrospective as the masterpiece of his early period—Excavation (1950)—had dispersed. So my husband and I positioned ourselves in front of it to take advantage of what we knew was a rare moment of unobstructed viewing.

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Glorious Misfits

Joaquín Torres-García: Constructing Abstraction with Wood San Diego Museum of Art Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective Tate Modern   Anne Truitt: Perception and Reflection Hirshhorn Museum   Formal values are personal values. What holds us in a painting or a sculpture is not art history but an individual’s history, some inner necessity or imperative that has been expressed through the forms available at a particular time. There are classicists and there are expressionists in every age, and the twentieth century was no exception.

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  “For two thousand years,” wrote Harold Rosenberg, “the main energies of Jewish communities have gone into the mass production of intellectuals.” For Rosenberg, the art critic who belonged to the receding constellation of writers known as the New York Intellectuals, such a claim was something between a boast and a self-justification. The New York Intellectuals were mainly second-generation Americans, whose self-sacrificing immigrant parents won them the opportunities America offered to newcomers, including Jews.

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Alfred Kazin: A Biography By Richard M. Cook (Yale University Press, 452 pp., $35) I. Alfred Kazin had one great, abiding subject. He wanted to tell the world what it felt like to become a writer in mid-century America. In three autobiographical volumes published over a period of a quartercentury, he dug so deep into his own life story, which had begun in hardscrabble Brooklyn and climaxed in the glamorous Manhattan of the 1960s, that he managed to tell the story of an entire generation.

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Cambridge Diarist

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The Great Divide

A letter from a reader in the Pacific Northwest asks wryly: "Do you invent some of the films you write about?" The question prompted a Borgesian temptation to invent, but I was soon calmed down by a sober fact—hardly new, still sobering. The reader's faintly desolate question underscored it. In terms of filmgoing possibilities, this country is schizoid. I, in New York, confront a fairly full range of available films. Only in a few large cities is anything like that range available; and those cities are only a small slice of this country's possible audience.

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Robert Hughes explains how New York in the 1980s is *not* Paris in the 1890s. He gives a compelling account of the decline of the fine arts in America

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Kramer vs. Kramer

Robert Hughes reviews a book by former New York Times art columnist Hilton Kramer.

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