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Irving Sandler

IRVING SANDLER was an art critic, art historian, and writer. The second volume of his memoirs, Swept Up By Art: An Art Critic in the Post-Avant-Garde Era, was published by Rail Editions in 2015.

Guest Critic

Art Criticism Today

Since the 1990s, growing numbers of art critics have come to believe that the art market had infiltrated every sector of the art world and had devalued art criticism’s role in shaping the art world consensus. As one art writer said, he feels like a piano player in a whorehouse.

Ad Reinhardt: My gadfly and my friend

Ad Reinhardt was my personal gadfly, and he had much to goad, since I was an avid devotee of Abstract Expressionism and a member in good standing of “the boys,” Philip Pavia’s term for de Kooning’s coterie, condemned by Ad as “impure.”

In Conversation

Jerry Saltz with Irving Sandler

This July, while spending the summer in New York City, New York Magazine art critic Jerry Saltz paid a visit to Rail Consulting Editor Irving Sandler’s home in the West Village to talk about his life and work.

RAILING OPINION: How to Look at Postmodern Painting and Its Criticism

Entering the avant-garde art world in the 1950s, I was reared on modernist painting and its attitudes.


So much has been said about the “essence” of things and men that you’ll forgive me if I’ll say a few words in praise of the surface.

In Conversation


Just a few days before the artist’s opening reception of her recent exhibit Errätus at Galerie Lelong (March 18 – May 1, 2010), Ursula von Rydingsvard welcomed Consulting Editor Irving Sandler and Art Editor John Yau to her Brooklyn Studio to view the works and then discuss her life and work.

In Conversation

KEN JOHNSON with Irving Sandler

On the occasion of the New York Times art critic, and contributing editor at Art in America, Ken Johnson’s recent publication Are You Experienced? How Psychedelic Consciousness Transformed Modern Art, consulting editor Irving Sandler welcomes the author to his West Village home to talk about his life, work, and more.

Dear Dave, Welcome Back

Dear Dave, welcome back to art writing, if indeed your article was a signifier of that. I was troubled by your abandonment of us in the first place.

In Conversation

Art and Community: “Dwelling Munich”
with Irving Sandler

Charles Simonds is an artist who has been making dwelling places for an imaginary civilization of Little People who are migrating through the streets of cities throughout the world. Each dwelling tells part of the story of the lives of these people, where they have gone, what they do, how they live, and what they believe.

In Conversation

Robert Storr with Irving Sandler

I have been concerned that in the critical community, there is this insistence that art is about beauty versus politics, criticality versus sensuality, or all these absolutely ridiculous dichotomies.

In Conversation

Ena Swansea with Irving Sandler

On the occasion of her two recent one-person exhibits, a survey show at MUDAM Luxembourg (Musée d’Art Moderne Grand–Duc Jean), curated by Marie-Claude Beaud (on view till February 2, 2009), and new paintings at Arndt & Partner Zurich (on view till November 22, 2008,) Rail Consulting Editor Irving Sandler welcomed the painter Ena Swansea to his home in the West Village to discuss her life and work.

In Conversation

Roberta Smith with Irving Sandler

"I believe in individual taste, but taste-making is a kind of fiction. It's just a way to organize things that as time passes are going to fall apart again," says Smith.

Allan Kaprow (1927–2006)

First Nam June Paik. Now Allan Kaprow. Two great innovators, gone.

Railing Opinion: A Call to Art Critics

Is there justification in the widespread feeling among us that art criticism is irrelevant, eclipsed by the activities of dealers, collectors, and curators, and consequently that there is a crisis in art criticism?

Re: Michael Corris In Conversation with Joan Waltemath on Ad Reinhardt

In the more than dozen years that Ad Reinhardt and I were friends, he said to me a number of times that “Art is art and everything else is everything else”—and never the twain shall meet.

“An Artist of the Earth.”1

Arshile Gorky is a “Geiger counter of art.”2 So said Willem de Kooning, his closest friend in the 1930s. From the start of his life’s work in the mid-’20s, he sought to assimilate the history of modern painting.

Railing Opinion: A Call to Art Critics

This call is written from a deep feeling of frustration with things as they are in the art world, a feeling shared by many art critics today. Consequently, I believe that we as art critics begin to deal with a series of questions.

Master Bill at MoMA

He became my friend and his insights into art meant more to me than those of any other artist or critic I knew at the time. So it now seems fitting to end the second and final volume of my memoir by writing about Bill and the astonishing show of 200 of his paintings at the Museum of Modern Art.

My Mentors

Most of what I know about art I learned by listening to artists in their lofts; at The Club (which I ran from 1957 to 1962), where the Abstract Expressionists met for panel discussions, lectures, drinking, and dancing; the Cedar Street Tavern; and the Tenth Street cooperative galleries, notably the Tanager Gallery (which I managed from 1956 to 1959).


The Brooklyn Rail

SEPT 2023

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