Leo Steinberg, Art Historian, Dies at 90

Leo Steinberg, one of the most brilliant, influential and controversial art historians of the last half of the 20th century, died on Sunday at his home in Manhattan. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by his assistant, Sheila Schwartz.

Mr. Steinberg was an inspirational lecturer, a writer of striking eloquence and an adventurous scholar and critic who loved to challenge the art world’s reigning orthodoxies. Though trained in the study of the Renaissance and Baroque eras, he wrote as insightfully about modern art as he did about the old masters.

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....

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Clare Spark - 3/16/2011

I. N. Steinberg has been a neglected figure in history. He was not only the head of the Left-Social Revolutionaries briefly in a coalition government with Lenin (see his book In The Workshop of the Revolution), but during later years he traveled the world trying to find a homeland for the Jews other than Israel, which he felt would be a death trap.

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