Peter Plagens

Clinkers To Clevers To Chance

According to current art-world mythology, artists are no longer alienated loners surrounded by H. L. Mencken's hostile booboisie. The new, better-adjusted postmodern artist is a Master of the Universe, at home with a sophisticated public and different from an investment banker only in visual inventiveness and slyly subversive politics.

Back To The Future

Rauschenberg's golden oldies at the Whitney inspire his new work in Florida On the one hand, Robert Rauschenberg never seems to hurry when he's home on Captiva Island--a densely populated winter hideaway for CEOs and celebrities off the southwest Florida coast.

Homer's Where The Heart Is

Hardly any consequential painters today are what one would properly call Tens of thousands of tourist-shop pictures and hours of televised lessons on palette-knife tricks have forced impasto'd pounding waves to break mostly over the hobbyist's couch.

Say Goodbye, Mister Hip

A generation ago at the contemporary art museum, Dad and Billy could admire the big, bright outdoor sculpture, Mom could bathe her eyes in color field painting and little Sue could buy a board game designed by a conceptual artist.

An American Original

If Morgan Russell had been in the movies instead of modern art, he would have had one of those special-achievement Oscars named after him. After all, he was one of America's first two abstract painters, along with Stanton Macdonald-Wright.

The Venetian Carnival

Jenny Holzer, the 4-year-old American "word artist," is the official sensation of this year's gathering of art-world tribes, the 44th Venice Biennale (through Sept. 30).

Russia's Champagne Taste

A historical irony pervades "From Poussin to Matisse: The Russian A Taste for French Painting" at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art. The old masters wound up in the Soviet Union largely because Russian noblemen, with the purchasing power of contemporary Japanese, prowled France to buy up art dispersed by the Revolution.