Art: The Human Clay in Extremis

In California, paintings of power and torture by Leon Golub

There is a lot of political art around in America today, but few political artists of real weight. When bad art is busy defending the exploited, does it place one with Pinochet to speak of taste? Most political artists offer values that seem hardly more nuanced than the New Masses cartoons of the 1930s: Manichaean Punch-and-Judy shows of good and evil, projecting ideological stereotypes onto schematically experienced realities. But one striking exception is Leon Golub.

Golub is 62 this year and, beyond question, the leading...

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