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The Rape of Lucrece: Detail

Modern sculpture has been driven underground: I do not mean the sort of glitter that incrusts new office-buildings and non-denominational churches with totems of brazed-brass popularity, but the serious efforts of artists whose imaginations are larger than any for ; who work in the lights and darks of a space that contains more thinks than are dreamed of by any philosopher; who, in accepting the possibilities of heroic sculpture, condemn themselves to the common modern irritations of solitary endeavour, mass-misunderstanding, and condescension from that "elite" of "modernity" that ordered the brazed-brass totems in the first place to celebrate its graduation from the Bauhaus.

It is a miracle that such sculptors survive to work in the air filled with gad-flies. It is a double miracle that such workds get finished and exhibited.

Nakian's monumental steel Tarquinius and Lucretia is the result of such miracles. It is the most exciting and profound modern sculpture that I have seen in a decade, and it is a triumph of our culture, as well as a triumph over our culture which has done a level best to destroy it.

In the dark shapes of battleship steel, in the whip-lines of steel bars and edges, around the sanctuary of space the steel encloses and releases, are the noble king and the regal heroine, trapped in the gestures of their nobilities and passions, which are, of course, the nobilities and passions of the black steel and its remarkable presence.

The sensual divinities, in this exhibition, who await the emperor's return to his bed-chamber, or embark in curtains of Fragonard-spray on the backs of bull-Zeus, introduce the culminating vision, as the thousands of little loves introduced the Goddess by Titian.

This great temple-sculpture could transform Grand Central Station into a Temple of Aphrodite (presently it is dedicated to Hermes, god of thieves and medics). Miracles always work both ways. Reuben Nakian's does.

Thomas B. Hess, Executive Editor
Art News, Nove., 1958