In 1954, writing as art critic for The Nation, my late colleague Lane Faison described a memorable evening with a party of art students summering in Vermont. They were suitably bohemian—“black beards, blue jeans, and all”—and their views on contemporary art were “properly violent”:

The recognized masters of our day were not good; they were old hat, insufferable bores. Critics were blind to the new things, unaware that the future was already becoming the present. I listened with...

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