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PRINT February 1985

Letters: On “Doctor Lawyer Indian Chief: ʻ“Primitivism” in 20th Century Art’ at the Museum of Modern Art in 1984”

To the Editor:

After years of work on an exhibition, a curator derives a certain satisfaction from a review that attempts to engage the basic issues of his show in a fair-minded way and on a high level of discourse. This is true even when the review is largely negative, as in the case of Thomas McEvilley’s article on The Museum of Modern Art’s “Primitivism” [“Doctor Lawyer Indian Chief,” November 1984]. Most analyses of exhibitions and their books fall away and are soon forgotten. McEvilley’s could be one that becomes part of the history of the event it addresses. I hope, therefore, that he will take this extended commentary on his text at least somewhat as a compliment—an attempt to further thrash out and clarify some ideas and attitudes that mean much to both of us—and not as an exercise in logomachy. The questions McEvilley raises go far beyond the exhibition to the nature and motives

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