Art: Handful of Fire

Like any show of its kind, the annual exhibition of contemporary U.S. art that opened in Manhattan's Whitney Museum last week bulged with duds. Artists not invited to exhibit would consider the show too small, but for gallerygoers it was far too big. Of the 161 painters represented, only a handful had fire.

Most of the pictures on the walls looked like more or less distorted reflections of each other. Jackson Pollock's nonobjective snarl of tar and confetti, entitled No. 14, was matched by Willem DeKooning's equally fashionable and equally blank tangle of tar...

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