Art: Dead or Alive

The lively Italian art world likes nothing better than a slug-and-slam free-for-all. Last week Italian artists were having the time of their lives. The occasion: the big government-run Rome Quadriennale, after the Venice Biennale Italy's most important art show.

Quadriennale officials, with 90 million lire ($145,000) to spend, set out to make this year's show the biggest & best ever, took over Rome's sprawling marble Palazzo delle Esposizioni to house it. To fill the 2½ kilometers of wall space they arranged a big retrospective of 19th and 20th century Italian art, asked Italy's 250 top painters and sculptors to send an average...

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