EVERY two years, Washington's Corcoran Gallery stages one of the nation's most important exhibitions—a huge cross-section show of U.S. paintings. For laymen, it is an opportunity to see the nation's best representatives of every school of contemporary art; for the painters whose works are shown, it means acceptance into the top ranks of U.S. artists. This week the Corcoran opened its 23rd biennial show—a lavish spread of 226 paintings—and announced the four prizewinners. The $2,000 First Prize went to Abraham Rattner's glowing Composition with Three Figures (opposite). A pleasantly romantic still life by Hobson Pittman took second money, Francis Chapin sailed...

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