Art: Against The Cult of the Moment

A superb show presents Georges Seurat as an inspired lyricist who achieved grand images of mysterious permanence

In the past decade the American public, mainly in New York City and Washington, has been treated to one of the historic events in the life of the modern museum: the collaboration between U.S. institutions and the Reunion des Musees Nationaux on a series of retrospectives of the great French artists of the 19th century. Edouard Manet in 1983; Vincent van Gogh in 1984 and 1986; Paul Gauguin, Gustave Courbet and Edgar Degas in 1988; Claude Monet in 1990 -- all these, done at the highest pitch of curatorial skill, have redefined the School of Paris for us.

Nor is the...

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