“Extraordinary Realities”

Whitney Museum of American Art

Sometimes it occurs to me that the Whitney Museum, despite its good intentions, is giving American art a bad name. This sensation was particularly strong while viewing one of its current exhibitions, “Extraordinary Realities,” organized by Robert Doty. Edward Gorey wrote a preface to the catalogue which traces the development of what he calls the “attitude of irrationality” and “defiance of logic and high art” through Dada and Surrealism, Chicago’s Hairy Who, and California Funk to the artists in this exhibition. The last are involved with “a restructuring of the existing world.” According to Gorey, theirs is an attitude which:

explores the relationship between dreams and objective experience, reality and imagination. . . . Although many of its references are private, there is also a tendency to incorporate ubiquitous elements which refer to the banal and sometimes ludicrous aspects of the

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