Leo Steinberg, one of the most brilliant, influential, and controversial art historians of the last half of the twentieth century, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan, reports Ken Johnson for the New York Times. He was ninety.
Johnson writes that the titles of his two best-known books, Other Criteria: Confrontations With Twentieth-Century Art (1972) and The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion (1983), suggest the range of his interests. The earlier volume, a collection of essays written between 1953 and 1971, includes extended meditations on Picasso and Jasper Johns as well as shorter reviews of artists like Willem De Kooning, Philip Guston, and Raoul Hague that he wrote during a brief stint in the mid-1950s as a regular critic for Arts magazine. The latter book, originally published as a long-form essay in the journal October, interpreted the display of the infant Jesus’s genitals in Renaissance paintings.