Leo Steinberg

Art historian Leo Steinberg is Benjamin Franklin Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. His books include Other Criteria: Confrontations with Twentieth-Century Art, Michelangelo's Last Paintings, The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion, and Encounters with Rauschenberg.

  • Leonardo's Incessant Last Supper

    Leonardo's Incessant Last Supper

    Leo Steinberg

    A fresh look at the multiplicity of meanings in Leonardo's Last Supper.

    A picture universally recognized, endlessly scrutinized and described, incessantly copied, adapted, lampooned: does Leonardo's near-ruined Last Supper still offer anything new to be seen or to be said? This book is a resounding Yes to both questions. With direct perception—-and with attention paid to the work of earlier scholars and to the criticism embodied in the production of copyists over the past five hundred years—Leo Steinberg demonstrates that Leonardo's mural has been consistently oversimplified. This most thought-out picture in Western art, painted in the 1490s on the north wall of the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, is a marvel of compressed meanings. Its subject is not one arrested moment, but successiveness and duration. It is not only Christ's announcement of the forthcoming betrayal, but in equal measure the institution of the Eucharist. More than the spur of the moment animates the disciples, and more than perspective determines their housing. Though Leonardo's geometry obeys all rules, it responds as well to Christ's action at center, as if in emanation from the prime mover. The picture is simultaneously narrative and sacramental. As its protagonist is two-natured, as the twofold event of this night is both human submission and divine dispensation—-so the entire picture is shown to have been conceived in duplexity: a sublime pun. Meanwhile, the unending disagreement as to what exactly is represented, what the depicted actions express, how and where this assembly is seated—-all these still-raging disputes are traced to a single mistaken assumption: that Leonardo intended throughout to be unambiguous and clear, and that any one meaning necessarily rules out every other. As Steinberg reveals an abundance of significant interrelations previously overlooked, Leonardo's masterpiece regains the freshness of its initial conception and the power to fascinate.

    • Hardcover $48.95 £40.00

Contributor

  • Hans Haacke

    Hans Haacke

    Rachel Churner

    Critical texts that span almost fifty years, mapping Haacke's progression from engagement with biological systems to interrogation of the social and economic underpinnings of art.

    For five decades, the artist Hans Haacke (b. 1936) has created works that explore the social, political, and economic underpinnings of the production of art. His works make plain the hidden and not-so-hidden agendas of those—from Cartier to David Koch—who support art in the service of industry; they expose such inconvenient social and economic truths as the real estate holdings of Manhattan slumlords, and the attempts to whitewash support for the Nazi regime, apartheid, or the war on terror through museum donations.

    This book gathers interviews, difficult-to-find essays, cornerstones of institutional critique, and new critical approaches by writers that include Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Jack Burnham, Rosalyn Deutsche, and Leo Steinberg. Haacke's 1971 Guggenheim exhibition was famously canceled when the artist refused to withdraw several proposed works, including one exposing the business dealings of a Manhattan real estate company. This volume includes Edward Fry's catalog text for that show, as well as Walter Grasskamp's “An Unpublished Text for an Unpainted Picture,” redacted from an exhibition catalog in 1984 because of statements about the German collector Peter Ludwig. Other essays consider such topics as Haacke's controversial commission for the Reichstag; the activation of the spectator, from Condensation Cube to the Polls; the conceptual continuity of his practice with regard to General Systems Theory; and his delayed and problematic reception in both the United States and Europe. With contemporary essays and scholarly reassessments, this collection serves as an essential guide to critical thinking on Haacke's artistic practice, from the works of the 1960s that engage with physical and biological systems to his later interrogations of the social and economic underpinnings of art.

    Contributors Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Jack Burnham, Douglas Crimp, Rosalyn Deutsche, Sam Durant, Edward F. Fry, Walter Grasskamp, Rosalind Krauss, Jack McGrath, Luke Skrebowski, Leo Steinberg

    • Hardcover $35.00 £28.00
    • Paperback $19.95 £15.99