The conundrum of art criticism lies in writing about a subject that, by its very nature, eludes literary extrapolation. This is why it is easier, if not easy, writing about bad or so-so art: failed painting or sculpture lends itself more readily to explaining why it is what it is. Writing about art that is successfully realized on its own terms is another matter. Metaphor is the best a critic can do in writing about art, but even that only goes so far. After all, how much can one really say about a Fra Angelico?

I was reminded of this quandary while visiting the recent exhibition of sculpture by Christopher Wilmarth (1943–1987). This is not to say that the merits of Wilmarth’s sculpture, which are considerable, accord him a status alongside the Florentine master. Nor am I suggesting that writing well about art is an impossibility—although given the inanity of much current criticism one might think so. But...

 
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