Pablo Picasso, Figure, 1927, oil on plywood, 50 3/4 x 37 1/2". © Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

“Picasso and American Art”

Whitney Museum of American Art

“PICASSO AND AMERICAN ART” is an opportunity (not to be) missed. There is no better story in modern art than the struggle of American artists to go through or around Picasso. Jackson Pollock said he wanted to get rid of Picasso and (another time, just to be clear) kill him. Picasso said he wanted to make paintings with “razor blades on all surfaces so no one could touch them without cutting his hands.” Great stuff. And the current exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art manages to drain all the blood out of it.

Perhaps playing up the oedipal drama would have been too easy. Guest curator Michael FitzGerald, working in association with the Whitney’s Dana Miller, believes the bigger story is one of studious reworking. The nine artists he highlights—Max Weber, Stuart Davis, Arshile Gorky, John Graham, Willem de Kooning, Pollock, David Smith (barely present), Roy Lichtenstein, and

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