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“Outliers and American Vanguard Art”

Drossos Skyllas, Wisconsin Ice Cave, 1950, oil on canvas, 24 × 30". From “Outliers and American Vanguard Art.”

“OUTLIERS AND AMERICAN VANGUARD ART” has long been in preparation by Lynne Cooke, former deputy director and chief curator of the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, who assumed the post of senior curator for special projects in modern art at the NGA during the run-up to the show. Her research has been far-reaching, and the exhibition aims to resolve some of the ambiguities that have bedeviled a category that still bears no agreed-upon name.

Cooke’s title settles for “outliers,” but the exhibition’s advance publicity runs the lexical gamut from “folk” to “self-taught” to “outsider” to “primitive” to “naive” to “visionary,” all terms that were current at various times and places during the twentieth century.One of Cooke’s main organizing principles is to concentrate on landmark exhibitions, beginning with “Early American Art,” held in downtown New York at the Whitney

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