“American Impressionism and Realism: The Painting of Modern Life, 1885–1915” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
May 10–July 24, 1994

Some day, perhaps, we will once again be allowed to look at pictures as pictures—works of art created out of the desire to express an aesthetic idea. But to judge from the latest exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, that day isn’t going to come soon.

“American Impressionism and Realism” is a show that anyone with a taste for these two episodes of American painting will very much want to see, as it contains marvelous works by some of this country’s greatest artists—George Bellows, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase, William Glackens, John Singer Sargent, John Sloan, and John Twachtman. The show’s organizers enlist them in an effort to persuade us that, in spite of everything we’ve been told so far,...


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