Art: A Tortoise Obsessed with Oily Stuff

Painter Leon Kossoff prevails by plying a rich tradition

The show of paintings by the English artist Leon Kossoff, which opened last ( week at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City, ought to provoke some reflection. Kossoff, 61, is hardly known in America. He is one of the two English tortoises (the other being Frank Auerbach) who are crossing the finish line just when most of the short-winded art hyped in the 1980s has gone dead on its feet. Both are, so to speak, redemptive artists, sustaining and enlarging a tradition of the expressive human figure that seems largely to have been colonized by ham-fisted ephemerids. When neoexpressionism...

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