Analyzes the works of a variety of modern artists including Edward Hopper, Louise Nevelson, Chuck Close, and Julian Schnabel
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Kramer, former New York Times art critic, has assembled a collection of his reviews along with a smattering of essays. In his hymn to New York's renovated Museum of Modern Art, he notes that its "formalist outlook tends . . . to lead to a false sense of orthodoxy." Yet these reviews, which rigorously apply his own formalist standards of what constitutes modern art, miss out on much of what is vital and meaningful in today's highly variegated art scene. Kramer is appalled by political art, most of which, he argues, lacks artistic merit; he doubts whether any great art can be political. In surveying the '80s' rebirth of realism, he reassures us that many new realists are not antimodernist or antiabstractionist. One piece agonizes over whether Saul Steinberg should be considered an artist. A somewhat condescending essay on Max Ernst sets him above the "muddled narcissism" said to mar many other surrealists. Other subjects range from Rodin to Walker Evans; selections were culled from the New York Times, New Criterion (which Kramer edits), Commentary and elsewhere. October 25
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