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Cubism in Los Angeles

NOT LONG AGO I WAS involved in a discussion of Marx’s essay on “The Civil War in France” in which one of the participants expressed his dissatisfaction with Marx’s account—given Marxist theory. Because in the light of a Marxist economic analysis there is no reason on the face of it why those events (the war of 1870) should have given rise to that outcome (the Paris Commune). This sense, that between a theory which is supposed to account for the structure of a given occurrence, and the actual constellation of detail which makes up that occurrence, there lies a disturbing opacity, nags at any writer of history who wants to analyze as well as record events. And for the art historian concerned with 20th-century painting, the phenomenon of Cubism offers just this kind of resistance to explanation.

The Cubists, we are told, were intent on representing the fullness of the free-standing, volumetric

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