Art: Lost Among the Figures

At the Whitney, confused reflections on the body aesthetic

The aim of "Focus on the Figure," a show of some 50 paintings that opened last month at the Whitney Museum in New York, is to put in perspective the developments in American figurative art over the past two decades. It begins with Pop art, with its images of commercial representation; it takes in artists like Alex Katz and Larry Rivers, makes a bow to de Kooning's women, and then sets up some large-scale American realist art from the '70s, contrasted with the perverse and...

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