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PRINT March 1987

THE OPPOSITE OF EMPTINESS

FAITH IN ABSTRACT ART has been in crisis for the last two decades or so, after a period of generations in which its potential and leadership in painting and sculpture ran more or less unquestioned. While a number of serious artists have remained just as committed to abstraction as ever, in general it has seemed that its deep reasons for being have been sucked out of it, leaving only the abstract style. A recent revival of the practice of abstraction, in fact, comes with the same cover story as much contemporary nonabstract art, the notion that this is not the genuine article but a critical simulation of it, one movement among many in the late-night reruns of 20th-century styles that are our fin de siècle gasp.

Lately, a number of major exhibitions have investigated the roots of abstraction. Each has tended to emphasize a particular relationship, exploring the bridge between abstraction and

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