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slant

Catherine Opie and “theanyspacewhatever”

MUSEUMS ARE MACHINES of amelioration. A Frank Stella on one wall, a Morris Louis on the other; it’s all good. Even though the scholarship of the past thirty years has argued that aesthetic choices are not mere evidence of the progression of style but have ethical implications—whether you pool paint on canvas or paint stripes the width of a store-bought brush means something—museums still prefer to disregard the philosophical discomfort of such tensions. The exhibition “The Desire of the Museum,” mounted in New York in 1989 by the Whitney Independent Study Program, suggested that it was not individual curators, directors, or trustees who intentionally perpetrated this leveling of difference, but an institutional unconscious that silently engendered such placating gestures under the aegis of ideological constructions such as Art, and that old sawhorse Genius.

Recently, the Solomon R. Guggenheim

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