Sculpture: High Priest of Danger

Since he first came East in 1960, a Californian named Walter de Maria has established himself as a kind of high priest of Manhattan's artistic under ground. His ideas are outrageous, as he apparently intends them to be. De Maria aims not to please but to force the viewer into studying his work and puzzling out its meanings. If the effort is infuriating more often than not, that makes no difference in De Maria's view.

His basic approach is a tantalizing simplicity—a column of polished steel, a square sheet of blank paper with...

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