PRINT January 1974

The View from the 20th Century

THE NATIONAL GALLERY OF Art in Washington, D.C., has a capacious collection, and one that the director has recently decided should accommodate modern American art. Thus he has moved into competition with the museums of modern art that already exist across the country, though not, as it happens, in Washington. I am not sure that it matters too much if the National Gallery does or does not possess a Jackson Pollock or a Barnett Newman in the permanent collection. I don’t consider the acquisition of current or recent art as the only index of an institution’s vitality, though living artists and their friends understandably do. However, the decision has been made not to allow a cutoff date to emerge within the museum collections either from its delay in collecting modern American art or from the high prices such art now commands. The first result of this decision is the exhibition “American

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