I've been stealing from Amy Goldin for years. I don't think she'd mind. Critics tend to like it when their insights enter the larger consciousness, and Goldin's certainly entered mine. Her varied writings on the power of decoration, long an artistic taboo, were revelatory in the 1970s. "The Esthetic Ghetto: Some Thoughts About Public Art" was published in an art magazine 38 years ago, but it remains the single best consideration of its thorny subject that I have read.
Now those and more have been gathered in "Amy Goldin: Art in a Hairshirt," a long-overdue collection of 28 essays by the critic. The handsomely designed paperback also includes a full bibliography and observations on her work by nine other critics and historians, such as Irving Sandler, Michael Duncan and Joan Simon. (Former Art in America editor Elizabeth C. Baker aptly calls it "a retrospective.")
Goldin wrote for only 14 years — she was a painter before she took on art criticism in her late 30s, and she died from cancer at 52 — primarily working in New York but with an important stint teaching at UC San Diego. Artist Robert Kushner, one of her students there, ably edited the volume.