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The Language of Pre-Abstract Art

THAT SO IMPRESSIVE EXHIBITION, “Four Americans in Paris,” has rightly drawn attention to the perceptiveness, tenacity, venturesomeness, good eye and good taste of the members of the Stein family in amassing such very good paintings. Inevitably an exhibition of this kind has attracted comment (both in the excellent catalog and outside) more concerned with the milieu than with the art. (Inevitably, because what we are also being asked to look at is the whole relationship of Cubist art to Matisse’s “alternative”—and I too am avoiding that question.) While I don’t at all wish to minimize the socio-art historical importance of what the Steins achieved, and although there are still very interesting problems to consider concerning the status and role of the collector in 20th-century art, I want nevertheless to leave the Steins and those sepia-colored memories alone and concentrate on just a few

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