Picasso's Progeny

A smart new show examines the ways American art awoke at the painter's touch

It was Arshile Gorky who got right to the point. "If Picasso drips," he said, "I drip." That was in the late 1930s, a time when deciphering Picasso's intentions, getting inside his darting, catch-me-if-you-can progress, from Cubism to Neoclassicism, from Surrealism to Guernica, was an all-important matter to that small but crucial category of American artists who had no use for the approved manner of the moment, American Scene realism. Grant Wood's farm folk and Thomas Hart Benton's small-town cuties were fine, if you didn't care about what painting could be. Although Picasso never set foot on American soil, in the intense...

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