Art: Toward A Mummified Sublime

The trouble with the exhibition of the work of Donald Sultan, which opened at the Brooklyn Museum recently after a seven-month run in other American museums, is its date. It should have begun in 1997. Then there would be a larger oeuvre to assess, a longer career to discuss, and not just a bright reputation to inflect.

Sultan was born in Asheville, N.C., in 1951 and is certainly among the more gifted American artists of his generation. But this show's catalog hums with inflated comparisons and claims. "He seems formed in the Manet mold," writes one contributor, Ian Dunlop, adducing by...

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