An Australian by birth, TIME art critic Robert Hughes tends to view his adopted land--and its art--with an anthropologist's eye. That's probably as it should be. America, he likes to remind us, is an immigrant society, and its art reflects the cultures of its settlers. For the past three years, Hughes has been trying to capture the essence of these cultural accretions. One result is an 88-page special report titled American Visions, which will reach our subscribers and newsstands across the country this week.

It is the equivalent of a complete issue of TIME produced by a single writer. "I felt...

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