Willem de Kooning is generally credited for coming out of the painterly gates strong in the forties, revolutionizing art and abstraction and reaching incredible heights by the early fifties, and then tailing off.
Artistic qualities that once seemed undeniable don't seem so now. Sometimes these fluctuations are only fickleness of taste, momentary glitches in an artist's work, or an artist getting ahead of his audience (it took me ten years to catch up to Albert Oehlen). Other times, however, these problems mean there's something wrong with the art.
Although I adore the Italian High Renaissance, I'd rather look at Mannerism. The former is ordered, integrated, otherworldly, and grandiose; it leaves you feeling hungry for something flawed and of-the-flesh.
The style of ancient Egyptian art is transcendently clear, something 8-year-olds can recognize in an instant. Its consistency and codification is one of the most epic visual journeys in all art, one that lasts 30 dynasties spread over 3,000 years.
Works of art often last forever, or nearly so. But exhibitions themselves, especially gallery exhibitions, are like flowers; they bloom and then they die, then exist only as memories, or pressed in magazines and books.
When the purse strings tighten up at museums, the institutions usually cut back and cancel shows. That's exactly the wrong reaction. In fact, now is a good time for them to loosen up - a chance to breathe and experiment a little - and go for the juicy solution lurking in their own basements.
All of Koons's best art - the encased vacuum cleaners, the stainless-steel Rabbit (the late-twentieth century's signature work of Simulationist sculpture), the amazing gleaming Balloon Dog, and the cast-iron re-creation of a Civil War mortar exhibited last month at the Armory - has simultaneously flaunted extreme realism, idealism, and fantasy.
New Yorkers only cross water for visual culture if the water is an ocean. The East River throws us for a huge loop. If we started going to Queens and the Bronx for visual culture, many of our rent, space, and crowding problems would be over indefinitely.