Art: The View From Outside

An exhibition honors the visionaries, obsessives and crackpots whose influence energized Modernism

MODERNISM IS OLD; THE WHOLE MUseum industry is its nursing home. The old mull over their beginnings, and there's no doubt that Modernism's high breeding line -- Manet, Courbet and Cezanne, who begat Matisse and Picasso, and so forth -- doesn't describe the whole family tree. All kinds of odd stuff went into it; now we are curious about these sources, and various museums have tried to document them.

In 1984 there was the Museum of Modern Art's much disputed show, " 'Primitivism' in 20th Century Art." In 1986, with "The Spiritual in Art," Los Angeles County Museum of Art curator...

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