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CRITICAL REFLECTIONS

A LOT OF THE CRITICS working today seem to have lost the ability to describe, or never to have developed it. This may in part be because they depend on the photographic reproductions that accompany their articles to convey surface information and iconography—or perhaps they just aren’t interested, period. Particularly at a moment like this, every artist should have the experience of seeing his or her work described by Adam Gopnik, at least once in their lives.

It isn’t just that Gopnik is a wonderful wordsmith, who slams sentences together in the most remarkable way: he is uniquely good at describing what it feels like to stand in front of a work of art. His passion for the object, and especially for the conventions and traditions of painting, comes before his interest in art-world politics. Instead of advancing a particular agenda, grinding a particular ax, Gopnik seems to try to glean

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