PRINT Summer 1991


IT IS A CURATORIAL TRUISM that, nearly anything in a vitrine looks good enough to hold one's gaze for a minute or two. A cigarette butt, a ballpoint pen, a crumpled piece of paper becomes a fascinating artifact under the aegis of exhibition. Stripped of all common faults, elevated to a position that commands esthetic attention, it becomes exemplary, its grime or banality transformed into testimony to its stunning ordinariness. Vitrines, then, are redeeming contexts, and it says something about how we now fit art into the world around it—about our division of the world into esthetically sacred and profane places, to borrow a distinction from Mircea Eliade—that the vitrine has become the model for the gallery. For inasmuch as the gleaming white cubes of SoHo or Cologne or Los Angeles are simply vitrines writ large, they, too, are redeeming contexts.

Art is made around this fact with surprising

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