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Traversing the Field... “Eight Contemporary Artists” at MOMA

IT IS NOW 1974, 20 years after Jasper Johns commenced his first flag paintings. By art-world standards, two decades impress as a very long time. But when I consider the work assembled noncommittally under the title “Eight Contemporary Artists,” at The Museum of Modern Art (its largest exhibition of new art since 1 9 70), an epoch dissolves from memory. I am cast back to the message Johns transmitted then, as if little had intervened. The offerings in the current show, executed by a roster of international artists mostly in their thirties, and the old American flags invoke each other, conjoin in sensibility. Yet the younger artists do not seem to participate in any apparent revival at all. Judging by the close and special variations they play upon his work, they act as if they were quite newly won-over accessories to his program.

Excuse me for making an art-historical allusion at the very

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