The Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum (born 1944) has been exhibiting his work with some regularity in New York since 1983, yet he remains a fugitive figure as far as the official art world is concerned. His paintings are only rarely seen in the museums or discussed in the glossy art journals, and on this side of the Atlantic, anyway, his work almost never turns up in surveys of contemporary art. Even the solo exhibition that toured a number of American museums a couple of years ago, though it undoubtedly made a considerable impression on the people who saw it, failed to establish Mr. Nerdrum as a familiar name. I went to see it in Pittsburgh on the day the international art press had assembled for a preview of the Carnegie International Exhibition, yet very few of the critics, curators, and collectors who had come to town for that event—from which, needless to say, Mr. Nerdrum’s paintings had been excluded—even bothered to take a...


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