Robert Longo at Metro Pictures & Petzel

Robert Longo, After Krasner (Birth, 1956), 2014, charcoal on mounted paper, 103
Robert Longo, After Krasner (Birth, 1956), 2014, charcoal on mounted paper, 103 1/8 x 60 inches (courtesy of Metro Pictures)

Paul Corio considers two exhibitions of work by Robert Longo: at Metro Pictures (through May 23) and Petzel Gallery (through May 10).

Corio writes: "When a group of pictures affects one so viscerally that they challenge some of the deeper convictions one holds about art-making, they certainly bear further analysis. Isn’t this one of the higher goals to which the artist aspires?... the appropriation mentality is something I never really bought into. Its defenders and exponents would say that it’s critiquing some of the most sacred cows of western art: originality, authorship, genius, masterpieces, inspiration, and so on. But it can just as easily be used as a kind of fig leaf to cover over what is in fact exhaustion and decay... In spite of these reservations, I’ve always believed that the best art creates its own argument – if you set up a podium next to a strong work and deliver a theoretical disquisition as to why it’s not valid, the art, although mute, will win and you’ll just wind up looking silly. This was certainly my experience with the Longo drawings – my objections just seemed strident while I was in the gallery, and only gained strength after I was away from the pictures. I still maintain that the objections are real nonetheless."