Art: Mighty Medici

The rulers of Renaissance Florence were legendary patrons of art. A splendid show surveys their legacy

We have to take it for granted that art patronage, as once understood, no longer exists in today's America. People collect art, buying it for their own enjoyment. But spending millions on an inflated comic by Roy Lichtenstein or outbidding a rival heavy hitter at an auction isn't public patronage. Such patronage suggests some intent of public edification, and in the U.S.--thanks to its barbarously ignorant politicians and its media-sodden public--that can no longer be done by high art, even if there was much high art to do it with. If the various bickering factions ever come up with an agreed-upon...

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