Writers of fiction could go to school on Robert Hughes. In this book you run across description after description, phrase after phrase that prove the power of language while conveying the power of art, so many 'spot on' explications that one is left feeling nearly overwhelmed. Fittingly, language is at the center of one of his primary theses: That art invents the language that the world will then put into daily use. Shelley wrote that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world; Hughes might say that artists are their counterparts in the Supreme Court.
Hughes is a stern, hard-boiled man, whose readings are based on clearest common sense. Even while he's transported by the beauty of a Frankenthaler, he has one eye open to make sure he's not being conned. He brooks no insincerity or unnecessary pomposity. His happens to be the only sensibility with the power to bring art to the masses, which is why it's appropriate Hughes is on television reaching out to the masses again in 1997. Dogmatism throughout will probably rub some artists the wrong way, but for the novice like me, it clears aside rhetoric and creates access.
I came to modern art wondering why every museum displayed the same boring things; now I know why, and why it doesn't have to be so. This is the leaping-off point for which I've always been waiting.