This past summer the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., mounted a show of works by sixteen contemporary European artists who use representational subject matter. Joe Shannon, Chief of the Department of Exhibits and Design at the Hirshhorn, organized “Representation Abroad” and wrote the catalogue.[1] Shannon’s entries on the individual artists are the work of” someone who clearly loves painting and sculpture, and he’s anxious to have us judge the work included on its own merits. In the preface he bends over backward declaring this is not a thesis show. Reading the catalogue, I had the feeling Shannon sees the lack of a thesis as a point in his favor; he believes the unpolemical selection of artists in “Representation Abroad” will have a special appeal for people who are turned off by...


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