Artist William Kentridge: Man of Constant Sorrow

Is the sober-minded William Kentridge the perfect artist for a postcrash world?

William Kentridge / Museum of Modern Art, N. Y.

Felix Crying, William Kentridge, 1998-99

A lot of the most-talked-about art of the past decade or so was shiny, shrill and brazen. Damien Hirst's diamond-crusted skull, Jeff Koons' big mirror-steel bling things, Richard Prince's slutty-nurse paintings: they were all the swaggering output of a boom time. There were plenty of artists working in a different key, but no one could claim that anguished moralists were the representative figures of the age.

Does the financial collapse mean that a hushed and chastened mood will come upon the art world? Don't count on it. Remember how 9/11 was supposed to usher in the end of irony? That didn't...

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