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Cold Turkey: “A New Spirit in Painting” at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

A WOMAN DECIDES TO hold a dinner party and hires a maid to wait on the table. All goes well until the servant steps into the room carrying a huge turkey, trips and drops it on the carpet. “Blanche,” says the hostess, her voice quivering, “Take that away and bring in the other turkey.” “A New Spirit in Painting” isn’t just a turkey—it’s the same old turkey dusted off and disguised. Cold, mangled and covered with fluff, it may stick in our throats, but the day is saved—any turkey is better than no turkey at all. Unless of course, you prefer the truth. The most provocative part of “A New Spirit” is the word “new”; every major point in the catalogue text has been made before, and the average age of the artists is 50. By London standards this is a very large, very expensive show indeed, and publicity for it has been unusually immodest. Unfortunately, magnitude of size has led to a loss of

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