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PRESERVATION SOCIETY: TWO VIEWS ON “CHAOS AND CLASSICISM”

Giorgio de Chirico, Gladiateurs au repos (Gladiators at Rest), 1928–29, oil on canvas, 617⁄8 x 78". Estate of Giorgio de Chirico/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome.

ROBERT PINCUS-WITTEN

APOLLONIAN DECORUM, totalitarian repression, elite chic: All these indexes and many more were coded in the newly minted or rediscovered classicisms inherent to European art in the decades following World War I. Some of the more pernicious strains became allied with triumphalist Fascism, a combination that reached its apex at the Berlin Olympics of 1936. That signal celebration of a putatively rationalist beneficence masked a racially pathological Europe nursing old grudges and on the sill of being reduced to ash, yet again. Chaos.

With its vast display of some 150 works by more than eighty artists (many as unfamiliar as their work is unknown), “Chaos and Classicism”—assembled by Kenneth E. Silver, the noted historian of the Paris avant-garde, and his team of ranking scholars—takes a bold step in overcoming present-day resistance to much of the art of

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