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PRINT October 1979

The Hayward Annual 1979

THE ARTS COUNCIL OF GREAT BRITAIN began to organize Hayward Annuals two years ago. The series is intended to “present a cumulative picture of British art as it develops,” and the selectors are changed annually. This year the selection procedure was changed too. The Hayward Annual 1979 was really five separately chosen shows in one. It was the best of the annuals so far: it even contained a whispered promise.

I want to look back. The 1977 show I found abysmal, the very nadir of British Late Modernism. The works shown were mostly those of the exhausted painters of the 1960s and their epigones. Even at their zenith these artists could do no better than produce epiphenomena of economic affluence and U.S. cultural hegemony. But to parade all this in the late 1970s was like dragging out the tattered props of last season’s carnival in bleak mid-winter. To my mind, the exhibition on a whole was

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