Art: Neil Welliver's Cold Light

In Philadelphia, a retrospective of a rigorous realist

Realist painting is now such an accepted fact of American art that one almost forgets how many of its best practitioners were once abstract painters, converted in midcareer. Philip Pearlstein, Sidney Tillim, Alfred Leslie, William Bailey: they all came, in one way or another, out of abstract expressionism, making the change not from opportunism—15 or 20 years ago, practically no collectors or museums were exempt from the tyranny of abstract art—but out of a sense of lost engagement with the physical world and a hunger to...

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