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Painting and Anti-Painting: A Family Quarrel

SUPPOSE AN ARTIST REMARKS to a critic: “You people distribute your attention badly; you overlook too many things, catch on to them too late or not at all.” This voices a familiar complaint, but the even testier one I have in mind works the opposite tack. It dresses us down for having “forgotten” what concerned us deeply once and what we held in high repute. It might have been an individual or a style from which the critics first waltzed or drifted away. But for at least five years the “negligence” has been more extreme than that, since a whole mode, painting, has been dropped gradually from avant-garde writing, without so much as a sigh of regret.

Criticism is one way of externalizing topics in art thinking. More than that, it provides an indispensable forum of debate, agitated not only with careerist maneuvering and intellectual fashion, but with the possibilities of thought and the

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