Those cultural dinosaurs among us who persist in believing that paintings and sculptures have something to offer other than politics, sociology, anthropology, or even sex, tend to be skeptical about revisionist enterprises. Nothing is more exciting than having one’s old habits of thought jolted loose by new observations and new information, but, all too often, self-proclaimed new approaches turn out to be predictable attempts to redeem the reputations of second- or third-rate figures, “marginalized,” we are told, because of race, sex, country of origin, class, and all the rest of it. (How come plain old lack of ability is never an issue in these discussions?) Whole periods, entire movements in the history of art have been re-examined in light of these currently fashionable pieties, but, alas, they don’t usually offer anything more illuminating than the entrenched ideas they aim...

 
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