Sometimes a cigar,” Sigmund Freud is reputed to have said, “is just a cigar.” If Freud was cognizant of the limits of interpretation—this was, after all, the man responsible for the contemporary tendency to divine symbolic portent within even the most negligible of objects—then why isn’t The New York Times? In his review of “John Storrs: Machine-Age Modernist,” the critic Ken Johnson notes that the exhibition curator Deborah Bricker Balken resisted phallic elaborations of Storrs’s streamlined and columnar meditations on urban architecture. That doesn’t stop Johnson from mulling over how “the rigidly upright autonomy of Storrs’s sculpture reads as a symbolic bid for . . . undiminished masculine potency.” A hard man may be good to find, but sometimes a vertical is just a vertical.

Besides, it’s a stretch to assign erotic intent to an art...

 
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