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ENDLESS MEANING AT THE HIRSHHORN

THE HIRSHHORN MUSEUM’S EXHIBITION “Content: A Contemporary Focus, 1974–1984" was perhaps America’s most ambitious entry into the big international-survey sweepstakes which has raged for the past five years. This Washington, D.C. exhibition also turned out to be one that continually expanded and contracted in my head, with every plus met by an equal minus. Sometimes it has seemed daring and innovative, at other times confused, familiar, and just plain mousy—not to be taken too seriously; at still other times it has also seemed dangerously stupid and regressive. Basically it failed, falling dramatically short of its high goals, but it was a compelling failure, intermittently extreme and eccentric enough to be a useful tool for further thought.

Despite indications to the contrary, this show can be taken as subtle encouragement of artistic conventionality and timidness. Close scrutiny also

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