TO Painter Edwin Dickinson, 69, the reward that counts most for the artist is that other artists understand and respect him. A spry, sparrowlike man in a sea captain's beard, he has steadfastly kept his name out of the press, has rarely allowed his paintings to be reproduced. On these terms Dickinson has won admiration among traditionalists and avant gardists alike for paintings that defy fashion, time or classification. Last week Manhattan's Graham Gallery opened a major retrospective that should help in making Dickinson's name as familiar to the public as it has long been within the profession.

Dickinson grew up...

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