“Berlinart 1961–1987,” at the Museum of Modern Art this past summer, was a show that wore its heart pinned ostentatiously on its sleeve.1 The galleries were lined with paintings done in a thumpingly Expressionist vein. Most of the remainder of the one hundred and fifty works by fifty-five artists were neo-Dadaist gimcrackery—assemblages, found objects, and the like. Though the paintings weren’t especially large by contemporary standards, many of them were too big for the galleries. They loomed forward, overwhelming the glass-fronted cases full of artists’ booklets and collagelets. Nothing harmonized; the galleries had a helter-skelter look. Kynaston McShine, senior curator in MOMA’s department of painting and sculpture and...


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