Art: Mellowing Met

Through exhibitions and purchases, Manhattan's Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art have long been benevolent godfathers to contemporary painting. In recent years Manhattan's mighty Metropolitan Museum has, by mutual agreement, left the job largely up to them. But last week the Met revealed that it had decided to plunge into the maelstrom of contemporary U.S. art by itself.

Next June, the Met announced, it would stage a show drawn from its own collection and entitled "American Painters, 1900-1950." That would be followed in the fall by a competitive exhibition—selected by regional juries composed largely of artists—of new American paintings....

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