New York

“The Curse of Bigness”

Queens Museum

Based on its title, “The Curse of Bigness”—an intriguing if inconclusive group show currently at the Queens Museum of Art—would seem to want to align itself with both politics and pedagogy: The phrase was coined in 1914 by Louis Brandeis, the social crusader and later supreme court justice, to instruct about the perils of the era’s overweening concentration of financial and industrial power in the hands of the few. Coming as it does out of a fairly particular historical context—glossed in an introductory note written by the show’s curator, Larissa Harris, and fleshed out at (great) length in a kind of accompanying “textbook” by the artist team Dexter Sinister—the title might well lead one to expect a consideration of contemporary practice routed through Progressive-style critiques pertaining to corruption and equality. But in the end, such large-scale didactic aspirations turn out to be

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