Art: The New Academy

The Whitney Museum's annual roundup of contemporary American art may not accurately reflect the merits of modern American painting, but it is a jolting reminder of the power and influence of the new academy of abstract expressionism. Throughout most of the Whitney last week chaos reigned. More than a score of exhibitors seemed to feel that where there's a Willem (de Kooning) there's a way—through large and sticky briars of paint to a darkling goal.

Others followed rival leaders, such as Sam Francis or Robert Motherwell, or sought out stylistic byways they could almost call their own. The byways were apt to...

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