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Kynaston McShine

Alex Katz, Kynaston, 1963, oil on linen, 35 × 48". © Alex Katz/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

I AM STANDING in Galerie Lelong, looking at a show of the art Hélio Oiticica made during his years in New York in the 1970s. On the front desk is a book that I pick up and skim, finding an interview with a fellow Brazilian who was close to Oiticica in those years of shared exile. He is asked whom the two men spent time with—who was their social world. Well, he says, we were pretty much alone, we didn’t really know anyone . . . except, of course, Kynaston McShine at the Museum of Modern Art.

This memory from a good few years back, which I now can’t completely reconstruct—was Oiticica’s friend the filmmaker Neville D’Almeida, perhaps? Not sure—is nevertheless clear in my head in the one detail that made me burst into laughter at the time: They didn’t know anyone except, of course, Kynaston McShine. It didn’t matter to me that Oiticica would actually have to have known

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