This hefty compilation of Danto’s columns on art, originally published from 1993 to 1999 in The Nation offers further proof of his distinctive ability to balance precise discussions of individual works of art with vigorous explorations of the cultural and historical milieu in which they have been created. Whether discussing the influence of such modern painters as Willem de Kooning or Cy Twombly, tracing the ebbing influence of Pop Art, considering the philosophical underpinnings of Performance Art, or delineating the complex intentions of such masters as Vermeer, Danto is vigorously clear, succinct, and bracingly pugnacious. In an introductory essay, he argues that the true purpose of art criticism is always to ask such essential questions as what any given work of art means. Criticism is at its heart a deeply philosophical undertaking. Danto’s vigorous, startling columns are a persuasive demonstration of the considerable insights that can be yielded when painting, photography, and related disciplines are treated as part of an ongoing debate within a society about essential ideas. A stimulating, provocative collection.