Leo Steinberg, Art Historian, Dies at 90
By KEN JOHNSON
The New York Times
March 14, 2011
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.
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. . . .
In all of Mr. Steinberg’s writing is a clear conviction that to study and write about art is far more than an academic pursuit; he believed that in art our deepest human values are at stake.
“It is in the nature of contemporary art to present itself as a bad risk,” he wrote in one of his best-known essays, “Contemporary Art and the Plight of Its Public” (1962). “And we the public, artists included, should be proud of being in this predicament, because nothing else would seem to us quite true to life; and art, after all, is supposed to be a mirror of life.”
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