Art: What's in Fashion

Visitors to the American pavilion at Venice's 25th biennial show of contemporary art, which opened this week, might well conclude that the U.S. boasts one great painter and six more-or-less indecipherable ones. The State Department had ducked the controversial honor of picking the U.S. entries; instead, the job had been done by officials of the Art Foundation of New York and Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art.

The pavilion's better half was devoted to John Marin, a wry, shy old crow of a man who paints nature as knowingly as Winslow Homer and with even...

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