Art: Gypsy John

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For the first time in a decade, Britain's most durable top-rank painter was having a one-man show. On opening day, the doors of London's little Leicester Galleries had parted promptly at 10 o'clock and the corduroy-jacketed clique of fellow artists hurried in for a long, appraising look. If anyone came with doubts, there was colorful evidence on every side that Augustus Edwin John's considerable gifts are still as full-blown and as fresh as they were when he gave his first exhibition, 49 years ago.

To the more militant admirers of modern art, there is something baffling in John's brilliance: his painting...

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