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21 Feb 2018

Leon Golub: Raw Nerve

Met Breuer

Reviewed by Suzanne Unrein

"Leon Golub: Raw Nerve" at the Met Breuer is a selected survey of his work from 1940 to 2004. Inspired by political and pornographic photos, classical art, and mythology, Golub sources a wide variety of images to create his aggressive and timely works. Interrogators sneer. Mercenaries torture. Good ol' boys posture with cruel authority. Pummeled on and scraped off, the paint mimics the crudeness it depicts with a visceral impact.

While known for his enormous paintings of political violence, Golub created later works that offer a despairing, sublime beauty. Small oilstick drawings of sex workers beckon the viewer as they fade in palimpsestic marks of bright red and blue. Bite Your Tongue (2001), an apocalyptic landscape, is deftly painted with large brushstrokes. Golub portrays the dog and decapitated head using subdued hues. A colorful banner to the left offsets the somber mood, announcing "Loyalty Discipline Renewal," a warning sign about our collective mortality.

Exhibition Leon Golub: Raw Nerve link
Start date 26 Feb 2018
End date 27 May 2018
Presenter Met Breuer link
Venue 945 Madison Avenue, New York City, NY, USA (at 75th Street) map
Image Leon Golub, Bite Your Tongue, 2001, acrylic on linen, courtesy of Serpentine Galleries

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