Art: Question & Answers

But what does it really mean?

Whispered or asked in a clear unabashed voice, no question is heard more often in a modern art gallery. The answers—whether supplied by highbrow critics, crusty crusaders, or well-meaning friends of the artist—are rarely very conclusive. This week, one Manhattan gallery tried the sensible experiment of letting the artists speak for themselves. It put on a group show of 23 U.S. painters (including some of the best) and invited each of them to contribute 75 words of explanation for the exhibition catalogue.

The abstractionists turned out to be abstract in words as well as in paint. The...

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