new-york

Martin Wong

New Museum of Contemporary Art/P.P.O.W.

Near a Long Island beach I visit in the summer is a lovely New England–style house, white shingled, wide porched, rundown, that reminds me of Edward Hopper. Chatting on the sand with its owner once, I decided to compliment him by telling him so, and got the reply, “Ah yes. Edward Hopper. Does he live around here?” This might have been a dry joke on the quality of art education in America, but coming from this particular man I doubt it. In any case, what surprised me with Hopper would not with Martin Wong: if New York’s ’80s generation of gallery-goers, seeing a certain building type, may think of Wong reflexively, he is scarcely a household name.

In the catalogue for Wong’s winning retrospective “Sweet Oblivion,” the New Museum’s Dan Cameron (cocurator, with Illinois State University’s Barry Blinderman) makes meat of this relative obscurity, attributing it to, oh, all that’s wrong with

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