Art: Creative Chaos

Recalling the past 50 years of American art--from the spiritually sublime to the subversively crude

It is hard to imagine a more explosive, splintered era in art making than the past 50 years in America. The roll call is dizzying--happenings, body art, minimalism, earthworks, conceptualism, neo-Expressionism, installations--to name just a few of the schools that have swum vigorously or otherwise through public waters. Then there is the vast sweep of photography, from the voluble street scenes of William Klein to the arch self-reflection of Cindy Sherman. And there is video art, whose evolution has fast-forwarded from monochrome navel gazing to gorgeous spectacle in a scant 30 years.

Yet for all that, there have arguably been just...

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