Art: With a Teaspoon

Last week, 15 years after the death of Charles Demuth, Manhattan's Museum of Modern Art got around to giving him a big exhibition. The 168 paintings and drawings on display proved the Lancaster, Pa. tobacconist's boy to have been among the nation's top moderns. In his lifetime Demuth was much admired by a small circle of artists, critics and collectors. But Demuth (rhymes with see tooth) never made much of a dent on the public.

In the exhibition catalogue, Museum Director of Painting and Sculpture Andrew Ritchie collared Demuth with a string of adjectives:...

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