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PRINT May 2006

Yve-Alain Bois

FOR YEARS BEFORE I MET HIM, WILLIAM RUBIN loomed larger than life. And after I gradually got to know him, he loomed even larger still—but differently.

When I came to America in 1983 from France—where twentieth-century art was still almost entirely absent from the curricula of art-history programs, where criticism was sheer belletristic babble, and where the Musée National d’Art Moderne had only five years earlier received from the powers that be the means to support a veritable acquisitions policy—Rubin seemed a giant. I had not seen any of his landmark exhibitions, except when they had appeared in Paris (typically a year after their debut at the Museum of Modern Art) in poorly installed, somewhat watered-down versions, such as “André Masson,” in 1977; “Cézanne: The Late Work,” in 1978; and “Giorgio de Chirico,” in 1983. Yet I had dutifully read their scholarly catalogues, as well as

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