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“The Third Mind”

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UNTIL SURPRISINGLY RECENTLY, conventional wisdom held that anything from the East that resembled contemporary work produced in the West was derivative, and yet anything that didn’t resemble work produced in the West was unsophisticated and naive. Alexandra Munroe’s “Scream Against the Sky: Japanese Art After 1945,” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in 1994, was one of the first major museum shows in New York to correct that perception. Even the New York Times expressed wonderment that “[a]nyone who regards contemporary Japanese art as a watered-down version of Western modernism has a surprise in store. Many of the artists included here have been pioneers in styles—Conceptualism, performance art, body art—that America and Europe tend to claim as their own.” In our current moment of Cai Guo-Qiang on the roof of the Met and Yayoi Kusama at Gagosian, it is hard to remember just how exotic

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