New York

“Georges Seurat: The Drawings”

MoMA - The Museum of Modern Art

I DO NOT QUITE KNOW what to make of the Museum of Modern Art’s renewed insistence, ever since it reopened, on revisiting the nineteenth century. Holding onto a security blanket as it dives further into the confusing medley of contemporary art? Preparing for the kind of bold move that Bill Rubin used to advocate in private, when he suggested that the museum’s jurisdiction begin with the advent of modernism and end with that of “postmodernism,” whatever that is? Justifying a posteriori the museum’s definitive recanting, in the early 1950s, of Alfred Barr’s initial precept that works necessarily be transferred to other institutions as they reached a certain age? If so, two drawings that did not escape such a fate recently made a pretty good case during a brief return visit to their former home to appear in the formidable exhibition “Georges Seurat: The Drawings.”

Whatever the motivations for

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