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How New York Stole the Idea of Modern Art: Abstract Expressionism, Freedom, and the Cold War

IT OFTEN SEEMS AS THOUGH art historians want to reduce the practice of art to something like their own business, a business in which a major piece of news is most often a squabble over a minor piece of information. Art historians like to worry about provenance, to argue about priority, about who did what first; they like to organize artists into schools and parties and to demonstrate similarities. They seem especially fond of this last activity, working hard to deny the particularity of artworks, their relations to the conditions that helped create them, presenting instead a rather disinterested array of tokens to be exchanged for brownie points during a debate at College Art Association meetings.

This reduction of the history of art into various arrangements has been criticized from among the ranks, but such criticism too often takes the form of a simple inversion, accepting the same

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