To any reader who may doubt it, I can attest that the public Hilton Kramer—the culture warrior, the corrector of taste, the defender of high modernism against the titters and travesties of Pop Art and after—was indeed the real Hilton Kramer. He was incapable of being anything other than what he was, a moralist in the field of aesthetics. He arrived at his convictions through looking hard at art and then testing what he saw against his heart, soul, mind, and historical imagination. He was the straightest of arrows, constitutionally incapable of striking a pose to win an argument or the confidence of others. He could not dissemble. In conversation, as anyone who ever talked with him will vividly remember, the full spectrum of emotion—anger, disgust, amazement, amusement, hilarity—played across his features with an almost childlike immediacy, transparency, and absence of guile. You knew where he stood—and where you stood with...


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