The only way to see contemporary art is by going to galleries, and the number of galleries that compete for the attention of a fairly limited number of gallery-goers is bewildering. Every month, hundreds of shows make an appeal to us either by virtue of the reputation of the artist or of the gallery or of both. And even with these swollen numbers, many of the most deserving artists are denied the distinguished presentation that their work really deserves. In the last couple of weeks of March, I must have seen a hundred shows in SoHo alone; what I culled from that number as being possibly worth writing about is less than a handful. I wouldn’t necessarily conclude from this that art has gone to hell; it may just be that the scene is now so crowded with frauds, clones, and mediocrities that it’s become a test of patience and willpower to find the genuine article. The bulk of the bad work is daunting; the variety of...


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