Art: A Nation's Self-Image

Can all of American art in the 20th century be encompassed in a museum show? In New York, the Whitney gives it a brave try--with balance, care and a keen eye for the best examples

It's an enormous, baggy subject--from the confidence of the gilded age to the imperial anxieties of the cold war; from a portrait by Thomas Eakins to a green humanoid by William Baziotes; from Stanford White's classicism to the democratic boxes of post- World War II Levittown; from Alfred Stieglitz's immigrants on shipboard to Robert Frank's visions of the underface of big-city America.

"The American Century," part one of which opened two weeks ago in New York City, is the biggest curatorial effort by the Whitney Museum of American Art in a long, long while--an ambitious and, for the most part, rewarding...

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