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PRINT Summer 2019

MINOR VARIATIONS

Walker Evans, Lincoln Kirstein, ca. 1931, gelatin silver print, 6 3⁄8 × 4 1⁄2".

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED in the left-leaning tabloid PM, Ad Reinhardt’s 1946 cartoon How to Look at Modern Art in America is a mordant and enlightening diagram of aesthetic positions and politics in the immediate postwar period. Rooted in the French Post-Impressionists and supported by a sturdy trunk inscribed with the names Braque, Matisse, and Picasso, the avant-garde tradition is represented as an enormous tree branching into discrete movements and tendencies. Foliated with leaves bearing names like Albers, Davis, Motherwell, Pollock, and Rothko, the left-hand, upright sprigs represent the efflorescence of nonobjective and abstract art in the United States. Below and to the right, a thick bough sags under a weight labeled “Subject Matter,” threatening to break from the tree of modernism proper. Its offshoots carry the names of figurative Surrealists like Pavel Tchelitchew and

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