Art: Storyteller

Five years ago Henry Koerner was a clever commercial artist, and nothing more. Today he is one of the most controversial figures in U.S. painting. Hfs fourth one-man show, which opened in a Manhattan gallery this week, was roundly praised and sharply damned, but it could not be ignored.

Koerner's art runs right against the fashion. Most of his contemporaries make "paintings," not "pictures" as Koerner does. To them there is something almost vulgar about the word "picture"—something that smacks of photography. Koerner, they complain, is a mere illustrator, born 100 years...

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